Overview 

The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (“EERE”) has made available up to $35 million in funding for research and development and demonstration and deployment projects to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. Congress first established the fuel cell and hydrogen program in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, with the goal of the “production, delivery, and acceptance by consumers of …hydrogen fuel cell and other hydrogen-powered vehicles” by Model Year 2020 (Public Law 109-58 Sec. 803(b)). This funding would further efforts by the EERE, and in particular its Fuel Cell Technologies Office (“FCTO”), to meet Congress’ mandate.

Funding Opportunity Announcement (“FOA”) Number 0001224 provides funds for projects for a number of R&D and demonstration projects, including those (1) supporting hydrogen production and delivery; and (2) extending the range and performance of fuel cell vehicles. This Client Alert provides details on this funding, and discusses the key specifics in the application process.

The Public Policy & Infrastructure practice has worked with a number of Reed Smith clients in crafting competitive applications for grant funding and complementary strategies to achieve funding, including obtaining support and assistance from members of Congress. We remain available to assist in the preliminary notice and development of a competitive application for funds under this FOA.

Area of Interest 1: Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Research and Development (R&D) The first Area of Interest includes research and development efforts to:

  • Lower the cost of hydrogen production and delivery to allow fuel cell vehicles to be competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles
  • Improve the performance of the catalyst that oxidizes the fuel in the fuel cell, i.e., provides the “spark.” As the FOA notes,“catalysts are key cost components for both transportation and stationary PEM [polymer electrolyte membrane] fuel cells and catalyst support/electrode degradation is often the factor determining fuel cell durabilty.” (Page 6)
  • Create a “robust system for dispensing and measuring hydrogen fuel” in order to support “widespread commercialization of fuel cell vehicle technology.”

Area of Interest 2: Demonstrations and Deployments to Enable Early Adoption of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies The second Area of Interest includes demonstration and deployment projects to:

  • “Design, develop, deploy, and validate economically viable mobile hydrogen refuelers” 
    (Page 7); Under Phase 1, “[a]pplicants are expected to design, develop, and fabricate mobile hydrogen refueling systems that are economically optimized to minimize capital and operational costs while meeting specified performance metrics.” Under Phase 2, “[a]pplicants are expected to validate their proposed mobile hydrogen refueling systems at a minimum of 3 sites, for a total of 18 months of retail operation.” (Page 13)
  • Accelerate the development and deployment of battery-fuel cell hybrid powered electric vehicles. “The vehicle fleet applications of interest are commercial available vehicles that would be retrofitted with a battery dominant power train and a fuel cell to extend vehicle range.” (Page 15)
  • Strengthen efforts at the local, regional and tribal level to reduce emissions and fight climate change. This “Communities of Excellence” subtopic would be limited to proposals submitted by those entities only. Examples listed include (1) “supporting the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles” and (2) “converting landfill and sewage treatment plant waster into usable fuel such as hydrogen.” (Page 19)

Who is eligible to apply for funds? Any individual, domestic entity, foreign entity, and incorporated or unincorporated entity is eligible to apply, with the exception for the Communities of Excellence subtopic, listed above.

Funding and Awards Between eight and 16 awards are anticipated under this FOA. The types of funding agreements can include grants, cooperative agreements, work authorizations and interagency agreements.

Is a match or cost-share required?

For the R&D projects under Area of Interest 1, a minimum 20 percent match is required. This is reduced from 20 percent to 10 percent for those entities that are:

  • A domestic institution of higher education, domestic nonprofit; state, local, or tribal government
  • Able to perform more than 50 percent of the project work

For the Demonstration and Deployment Projects under Area of Interest 2, a minimum 50 percent share is required.

Deadline/Timeline

There are a number of required elements to a completed application, with the deadlines noted below:

  • Submission Deadline for Concept Papers: 04/02/15, 5 p.m. ET
  • Submission Deadline for Full Applications: 06/04/15, 5 p.m. ET
  • Expected Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments: 07/17/15, 5 p.m. ET
  • Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications: Sep 2015
  • Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations: Oct/Nov 2015