dept of energy

Report identifies novel approaches to supporting energy hardware innovation

Emerging over the past five years, novel approaches to supporting early-stage cleantech development have the potential to ease the transition from invention to marketplace, according to new research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center for the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis. The report provides a comparison of some of the nation’s most notable cleantech incubators and accelerators, finding that each organization fills a unique niche and competition among them is not an issue.

DOE announces $70 M for cybersecurity institute for energy efficient manufacturing

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $70 million for a Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute to develop technologies that will advance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, energy efficiency, and innovation. This institute will focus on early-stage research for advancing cybersecurity in energy efficient manufacturing.

Solar solutions can compete for $3 M in solar prize contest

American Made Solar Challenge is seeking teams of creative individuals and entrepreneurs to compete for prize money and strategic support in accelerating ideas and solutions. In a three-part series of contests, $3 million will be awarded in cash prizes and up to $525,000 in vouchers, which can be used at national laboratories and other voucher facilities to develop, test and validate ideas in the energy marketplace.

DOE report highlights importance of 40 years of research support

A new report from the Department of Energy (DOE) highlights examples of major scientific accomplishments emerging from 40 years of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) research support, including how these discoveries have helped fulfill DOE’s mission and have led to new technologies and industries that contribute to American innovation and prosperity.

DOE considering competition to address water issues

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is calling on Americans’ competitive spirit to help solve critical water issues. Perry led a roundtable discussion last week on the use of federal prizes and challenges to drive innovation in dealing with water issues such as alternative water supplies, reducing water treatment costs, greater efficiency in usage, and advancing market-based solutions that incentivize innovation and cooperation.

DOE publishing fewer funding opportunites, SSTI finds

The Department of Energy’s annual portfolio of federal funding opportunities (FFOs) — an announcement for the solicitation of research applications on a specific technical area — published on grants.gov declined by more than 45 percent between 2012 and 2017 from 81 FFOs in 2012 to 44 FFOs during the last calendar year. The decline had the most significant impact on the number of FFOs published in technical areas related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and storage/other energy-related systems. 

US House appropriations bills would make major cuts to innovation

The House Appropriations Committee began releasing FY 2018 “markup” budget bills this week, and the proposals would cut billions in non-defense spending. EDA would lose $100 million* in funding, SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs would lose $34 million, NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership would lose $30 million, and Energy’s ARPA-E would be eliminated, among other cuts.

ARPA-E successful in short term, needs longer life

Although it has been slated for elimination under the president’s proposed budget, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program is making progress toward achieving its statutory mission and goals, and it “cannot reasonably be expected to have completely fulfilled those goals given so few years of operation and the size of its budget.” That is among the findings released this week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) in its assessment of ARPA-E. The project was overseen by the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) and was tasked with assessing ARPA-E’s progress toward achieving its statutory mission and goals, and determining whether it is on a trajectory to achieve them. In short, the answer is that it is.

Highlights from the President's FY 2018 Budget Request: Dept. of Energy

The president’s FY 2018 budget request would provide $28.0 billion in total funding for the Department of Energy, a $2.7 billion (8.9 percent) decrease from the FY 2017 omnibus. Notably, the proposed budget would eliminate the ARPA-E program, which received $306 million as part of the FY 2017 omnibus. The proposed budget “refocuses the Department’s energy and science programs on early-stage research and development (R&D) at the national laboratories to advance American primacy in scientific and energy research in an efficient and cost effective manner,” according to the DOE.

Budget deal supports innovation, research

Congress has passed a budget for FY 2017 that largely continues support for federal innovation programs and R&D investments. Among the highlights are $17 million for Regional Innovation Strategies (a $2 million increase over FY 2016), level funding of $130 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and $5 million for SBA’s clusters program. In reviewing dozens of line items, offices that had received significant cuts in the White House’s skinny budget appear to receive some of the largest funding increases (such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Development Block Grant and ARPA-E). However, with the exception of multi-billion dollar increases for Department of Defense R&D, many increases are rather small in terms of overall dollars. This is, at least in part, a reflection of non-defense spending caps rising by only $40 million for FY 2017, limiting the availability of new funds. In this context, science and innovation gains are particularly impressive, with a five percent overall increase for federal R&D that particularly benefits NASA and NIH.

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