Stephen R. Bolotin is a Public Affairs Advisor in our Washington, D.C. office

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) invests in high-value, high-impact research and development (R&D) for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Within EERE, there are numerous subprograms with their own technological priorities developing and issuing solicitations for grant funding and collaboration. This post is the second of a two-part update on funding priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2016 within these subprograms and will specifically cover Water Power, Advanced Manufacturing, Building Technologies, and EERE Cross-cutting Strategic Programs.

Water Power: The Water Power Program supports research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) in two distinct renewable power domains: (1) Hydropower and (2) Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) energy. For MHK, the office plans to award two competitive MHK subprogram demonstrations with advanced component systems integration in collaboration with the U.S. Navy's Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii. For hydropower, FY 2016 activities will be the first step in a multi-year HydroNEXT program that supports enabling technologies that allows for growth in hydropower from currently non-powered dams (NPD), including FOAs for:

  • Projects to identify and demonstrate new technologies associated with powertrain and civil works that will minimize construction costs and environmental impacts.
  • Advance conceptual designs for modular and small pumped storage hydropower (PSH). This effort will focus on the ability to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) pumps, turbines, piping, tanks, and valves to achieve reductions in PSH deployment costs, and hybrid PSH technology designs combining water storage with other forms of energy storage within energy and water delivery and collection systems.

Advanced Manufacturing: The program's FY 2016 request supports up to six new individual competitive funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) of approximately $15-20 million each, plus an additional Advanced Manufacturing Incubator FOA that will be released in the program's priority thrust areas. Thrust area topics to be considered include:

  • Grid and resource integration – Grid integration of manufacturing through combined heat and power, including waste heat recovery, advanced insulation materials, and integration of energy infrastructure (grid and natural gas);
  • Smart manufacturing – Including high performance computer simulation of energy-intensive and energy-dependent manufacturing processes;
  • Advanced materials manufacturing – (including advanced steel and nanomaterials manufacturing);
  • Next generation electric machines - (including ultra-conductive materials);
  • Sustainable manufacturing - (including water-energy); and
  • Other emergent topics for clean energy manufacturing – Including technologies with strong potential for dramatic improvement in energy efficiency and manufacturing competitiveness.

In addition, the Better Buildings Better Plants program offers technical assistance and informational resources to manufacturers to help them identify and pursue opportunities to implement cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. FY 2016 funding provides $7 million for Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), which conduct energy efficiency, productivity improvement, and waste reduction assessments for small- and medium-sized manufacturers at no cost to them.

Building Technologies: In FY 2016, the program will continue its BENEFIT (Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontier and Innovation Technologies) funding. The FY 2015 FOA was for $7.7 million. The BENEFIT FOA will focus on water heating, air sealing/roofs, dynamic windows/films and daylighting technologies, and sensor and controls. The office will also continue its BUILD (Buildings University Innovators and Leaders Development), and SSL (Solid State Lighting) FOAs. The $2 million BUILD FOA is for faculty-led, multidisciplinary university teams to develop building energy efficiency technologies. The Senate Appropriations Committee recommends $24 million for solid-state lighting technology development.

An additional FOA planned for FY 2016 is the $30 million Buildings Energy Efficiency Materials Manufacturing FOA. As part of the Department's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative and in support of the Materials Genome Initiative, this seeks to capitalize on advances in high-performance computing and high-throughput experimental techniques to rapidly design new and improved materials.

Funding will also support rulemaking and standards certification and enforcement in both commercial and industrial appliances. Since 2009, 25 new or updated standards, covering more than 30 products, have been issued. DOE will build upon prior year activities by initiating new energy conservation standards and test procedures for certain types of consumer products and commercial equipment and by issuing Notices of Proposed Rulemaking and Final Rules for standards and test procedures.

Along with these rulemaking efforts, the Building Technologies Office will invest $10 million in a Commercial Energy Codes FOA. DOE will develop and field test methodologies to establish a state baseline and then measure the energy savings (which incorporates emission reductions and utility bill savings) associated with a state's adoption and compliance with commercial building energy codes. While commercial energy codes are adopted in almost all states, there is currently no reliable data available regarding setting baselines and calculating the extent of compliance with the state's adopted codes, nor the potential benefits that could accrue from increasing those compliance rates.

EERE Cross-Cutting Strategic Programs: EERE's strategic, cross-cutting programs support high-impact, integrative activities that cannot occur within a single technology subprogram. This includes platform "technology-to-market" activities to catalyze more successful clean energy commercialization, entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and manufacturing competitiveness outcomes from EERE's research portfolio.

In conversations with DOE officials, we learned of a new program expected next year. The tentatively titled Lab Impact Initiative would provide $300-$500k vouchers to companies for testing and validation services at National Labs. The program is being run out of EERE's Cross-Cutting Strategic Programs Office's Technology-to-Market Subprogram and is intends to issue a $20 million FOA next year. National Labs would apply to participate in the program and accept the vouchers. The specific scope of work to be done would be negotiated by individual companies. There is only passing mention of the program in the proposed DOE budget. While the aim of the funding is not technology development, this program could be a way to offload testing costs and gain DOE validation for other investors.

The Technology-to-Market Subprogram is also planning a new initiative to support and accelerate investment from a range of philanthropic organizations to into clean energy technology research, development, and commercialization. Under this initiative, EERE will provide technical assistance and other informational resources that will help philanthropies understand opportunities and needs in clean energy technology development, share best practices and other information that can guide their investments, and allow the philanthropic sector to significantly increase both the amount and impact of their investments into clean energy innovation.

Click here to read Part 1

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