DOE Announces New Funding Opportunities

May 3, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced that it is accepting concept papers for five new technology research areas.

The ARPA-E program was created, in 2009, to identify clean-energy research projects deemed too radical or too preliminary to attract private financing. It initially received $400 million, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to this end. Please click here for more information.

The Fiscal Year 2011 budget allocated $180 million to the program, and approximately $130 million of this money will go towards funding projects in the five new research areas. The remainder will be invested in existing agency programs.

The five new research areas are:

  1. Plants Engineered To Replace Oil (PETRO) – PETRO is a biofuels program that aims to create plants that capture more energy from sunlight and convert that energy directly into fuels with a goal of creating biofuels for half their current cost.
  2. High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) – This program seeks to develop  cost-effective thermal energy storage technologies including those that deliver solar-produced electricity around the clock and use thermal storage to improve the driving range of electric vehicles by up to 40 percent.
  3. Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT) – Participants in the REACT program will attempt to create technology alternatives that reduce or eliminate the dependence on rare earth materials in electric vehicle motors and wind generators.
  4. Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI) – The GENI program will fund the development of innovative control software and high-voltage hardware to reliably control the electricity grid and improve power grid management and transmission
  5. Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (Solar ADEPT) – Focusing on  integrating advanced power electronics into solar panels and solar farms, the Solar ADEPT program will invest in advances in magnetics, semiconductor switches, and charge storage that could reduce power conversion costs by up to 50 percent for utilities and 80 percent for homeowners.

Companies interested in applying for any of these programs have until May 19, 2011 to submit a concept paper. Details on the open solicitation and how to apply are available here.

The five newly-announced technology areas join ARPA-E’s seven existing programs in power electronics (ADEPT), battery technologies (BEEST), building cooling (BEETIT), non-photosynthetic biofuels (Electrofuels), grid energy storage (GRIDS), carbon capture (IMPACCT), and the initial open solicitation.

This announcement is ARPA-E’s fourth round of funding.  In 2010, ARPA-E awarded $363 million in Recovery Act funding to 121 energy projects based in 30 states, with approximately 39 percent of projects led by universities, 33 percent by small businesses, 20 percent by large businesses, 5 percent by national labs, and 3 percent by non-profits. Participants in the seven existing programs already have garnered over $100 million in private investments since beginning their research last year.