A major new program of conservation, efficiency and renewable energy initiatives by the Department of Energy could save as much as $32 billion by the year 2000, reports an energy-oriented journal.

The program will ultimately prevent the release of 800 million tons of carbon dioxide and 2.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere each year, notes Energy User News magazine.These would meet about 20 percent of the emissions reduction targets in President Bush's clean air proposal, according to the publication.

Among the aspects of the program is a lighting project aimed at cutting the amount of electricity used to illuminate federal facilities by 25 percent, saving $930 million in fiscal year 1990.

The agency will also establish a new laboratory at its Solar Energy Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., to study solar electric and heating technologies.

The measures are a significant turnaround for DOE, which during the Reagan years diminished in size and concentrated almost exclusively on nuclear weapons and long-range research and development projects.

In announcing the new program, officials of DOE told Energy User News that promoting efficiency and renewable energy will be important elements of the National Energy Strategy that DOE is developing.