United States: Funding Opportunities For Advanced Fossil And Nuclear Energy Technologies

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

The current political climate – in conjunction with increased fiscal scrutiny around domestic energy initiatives – has shifted priorities at the Department of Energy (DOE) to focus on increasing investment in advanced fossil and nuclear energy technologies. Following the Trump Administration's sustained focus on coal and nuclear energy, many compelling opportunities for federal funding and collaboration are just now becoming available to industry.

These new opportunities will primarily become available through the DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and Office of Nuclear Energy. Similar to other DOE applied energy research offices, these offices routinely issues funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) directed at research organizations and private companies that are pioneering innovative technologies within the fossil and nuclear energy sectors. An overview of current and upcoming funding opportunities from these offices follows. In addition to the nuclear and fossil energy opportunities highlighted below, the Advanced Research Project's Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) also invests high-risk, high-potential energy innovations, as covered in our recent blog post.

Office of Fossil Energy

The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy (FE) invests in innovations that promote the reliable, efficient, affordable, and environmentally sustainable utilization of fossil energy resources. In particular, FE funds research and development (R&D) efforts in advanced power generation, power plant efficiency, water management, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. FE also supports the prudent and sustainable development of unconventional oil and gas resources domestically.

This year, FE will focus on targeted early-stage investment in advanced fossil energy technology R&D for coal, natural gas, and unconventional fossil energy. While the majority of funding targets lab- and university-led research efforts, there remain opportunities for cost-shared financial assistance projects with industry; moreover, lab- and university-led research efforts often include strategic partnerships with industry and thus still represent attractive opportunities for companies to obtain grant funding.

New and upcoming FE solicitations:

"Innovative Technology Development to Enhance Fossil Power System Operability, Reliability, and Economic Performance" FOA

  • Official announcement expected in early February 2018.
  • Expected available funding likely to exceed $15 million, based on budget requests.
  • Technical areas of interest:
    • Cybersecurity for sensor and control systems in fossil energy power plants
    • Novel computational approaches to predict the structure and properties of extreme environment materials produced by advanced manufacturing for fossil energy applications

See the Notice of Intent to Issue Funding Opportunity Announcement

Early-Stage R&D for Advanced Carbon Capture, Storage, and Utilization Technologies

  • Although not officially announced, budget requests indicate available funding as high as $15 million.
  • Technical areas of interest may include:
    • Transformational pre- and post-combustion capture technologies and systems that can significantly reduce overall operational costs
    • Storage monitoring, simulation and risk assessment technologies, as well as advanced wellbore technologies to detect and mitigate issues from both short and long term exposure of CO2
    • Novel technologies and applications for the beneficial reuse of CO2 for higher-value products such as chemicals, plastics, and building materials

This opportunity is likely to be announced in the Spring of 2018.

Office of Nuclear Energy

The DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) seeks to advanced nuclear power as a resource capable of making major contributions to U.S. energy supply, environmental, and security needs. In particular, NE aims to resolve technical, cost, safety, security, and regulatory hurdles to nuclear energy through R&D. NE has four specific research objectives:

  1. Improve the reliability, safety, and lifespan of current reactors
  2. Improve the affordability of new reactors
  3. Develop sustainable fuel cycles
  4. Address the risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism

This year, NE will focus on targeted early-stage investment in advanced nuclear energy technology R&D for next-generation reactor designs and fuel cycle technologies. While the majority of funding targets lab- and university-led research efforts, there remain opportunities for cost-shared financial assistance projects with industry; moreover, lab- and university-led research efforts often include strategic partnerships with industry and thus still represent attractive opportunities for companies to obtain grant funding.

New NE solicitation:

"Advanced Nuclear Technology Development" FOA

  • Up to $400 million in available funding
  • Technical areas of interest and award ranges include: 
    • First of a kind nuclear demonstration projects (awards ranging from $10 to $40 million) 
    • Advanced reactor development projects (awards ranging from $0.5 to $10 million) 
    • Regulatory assistance grants (awards ranging from $50,000 to $500,000)
  • This FOA will be open for a five-year period, with applications reviewed quarterly, per four yearly application deadlines outlined in the FOA.

See the full announcement.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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