DOE Steps Up Investments into Electric Generation Technology Research
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) over the past two weeks has made a string of funding announcements, including nearly a half-billion dollars of new investment in power-related initiatives. The funding backs advancements in cybersecurity, advanced nuclear, solar, bioenergy, fuel cells, geothermal, and energy storage.
$25 Million for Cybersecurity.On April 16, the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems program issued a $25 million funding opportunity announcement (FOA),seeking applications to conduct research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) for innovative approaches to advance cyber-resilient energy delivery systems.
The project hones in on five areas: redesign of cyber-resilient architecture for the power and oil and natural gas (ONG) subsectors; cybersecurity for the ONG environment; cybersecure communications; cybersecure cloud-based technologies in the operation technology environment; and innovative technologies that enhance cybersecurity in the energy sector. Applications are due by June 18, 2018.
$105 Million for Solar Technology. On April 17, the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office said it would fund about 70 projects to advance both solar PV and concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) technologies and help them secure facilitated integration into the grid. “These research projects will address the earliest stages of technology development, enable significant improvements to the current fleet of solar technologies, and maintain U.S. leadership in solar energy.” One of the four topics backs the DOE’s efforts to lower the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) to $0.03/kWh from utility-scale systems by 2030, which is half the cost of utility-scale solar today. Another focuses on improving and expanding the solar industry through workforce initiatives, aiming to increase the number of veterans and participants in the solar industry.
$39 Million for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. Also on April 17, the DOE announced up to $39 million in funding to support early stage research and development of “innovative” hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Anticipated topics include ElectroCat; H2@Scale, which involves integrated energy production and hydrogen fueling energy; and innovative fuel cell membranes and reversible and liquid fuel cell components. Applications are due by June 12, 2018.
$20 Million for Solar System Electronics.On April 18, the DOE announced up to $20 million in funding for nine projects to advance early-stage solar power electronics technologies. “As the critical link between PV arrays and the electric grid, advances in power electronics can also help grid operators rapidly detect and respond to problems, protect against physical and cyber vulnerabilities, and enable consumers to manage electricity use. Advanced solar power electronics can also help deliver power safely, integrate PV with storage controls, and ensure power reliability,” the DOE said. The awards go to Flex Power Control, which is based in Encino, California; and universities in Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, Texas, Washington, and Virginia. Oak Ridge, a national laboratory in Tennessee, is also a recipient.
$14.5 Million for Geothermal Drilling. On April 23, the DOE’s Efficient Drilling for Geothermal Energy (EDGE) announced $14.5 million to advance geothermal drilling, and expand the U.S. geothermal fleet, which is currently about 3.8 GW. The DOE noted an estimated potential of 100 GW or more exists in undiscovered hydrothermal and enhanced geothermal systems, but technological innovation is necessary to convert them economically into power. Concept papers are due by May 31, 2018.