On Monday December 7, 2009, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced a second round of funding through the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (“ARPA-E”) for innovative and cutting-edge clean energy projects. This latest round of funding, in which up to $100 million is available, is focused on spurring development in three specific technology areas: electrofuels, carbon capture technologies, and batteries for electrified transportation.
ARPA-E, inspired by the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”), and established by Congress in 2007, provides support for the research and development of energy technologies to overcome long-term and high-risk technological barriers. In April of this year, President Obama announced the availability of $400 million for the initial funding of ARPA-E projects.
During the first round of the program, the DOE selected 37 projects, representing a diverse group of technologies and institutions, as recipients of a total of $151 million dollars in funding. As the program is designed to support research and development of high-risk technologies, the application and review process is much more technically focused than many of the other DOE funding programs.
The latest solicitations from ARPA-E seek to promote research and development in three key areas:
While significant research and development has been devoted to biofuels, this solicitation seeks to pursue new approaches to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and electrical energy to infrastructurecompatible liquid fuels. Specifically, research will focus on the use of organisms and biological systems or other innovative processes. The APRA-E program is projecting 5-15 awards will be made under this solicitation.
- Innovative Materials & Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies (IMPACCT)
ARPA-E seeks to complement existing research efforts related to carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”) and limit the atmospheric release of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. Under this solicitation, ARPA-E will fund projects developing technology on enabling materials for carbon capture, including catalysts and robust materials, and advanced carbon capture processes. The APRA-E program is projecting 3-10 awards will be made under this solicitation.
- Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation (BEEST)
ARPA-E aims to spur the development of battery technology for use in cost-effective, electrified, lightduty vehicles. Specifically, the agency seeks projects to develop a new generation of ultra high energy density, low-cost battery technologies for widespread deployment. The APRA-E program is projecting 5-15 awards will be made under this solicitation.
Though the DOE has released a separate solicitation for each research area listed above, the ARPA-E application process is the same for each area of focus. The application is divided into two parts: (1) a Concept Paper addressing programmatic goals, objectives and the anticipated delivery of the project goals; and (2) a Full Application. Concept papers are due to the DOE by January 15, 2010. Applicants will then be notified whether they are encouraged or discouraged from submitting a Full Application, anticipated to be due in mid- March. As with other DOE programs, the full application process can be rigorous and time-consuming and applicants should carefully weigh the investment and extremely competitive nature of the program before applying.
Awards will be between $500,000 and $10 million, generally averaging between $1 million and $5 million. ARPA-E anticipates awarding multiple agreements totaling $35 million each under the BEEST and IMPACCT solicitations and $30 million under the Electrofuels solicitation.