ARPA-E Survives Budget Showdown, Expands
After narrowly escaping the Congressional hatchet during last week’s budget battles, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has returned to a full-court press in pursuit of breakthrough advances in clean-energy technology, announcing plans yesterday to invest more than $100 million in five additional high-risk, high-reward research programs.
Last week, Congress passed a spending bill that included $180 million in funding for ARPA-E, which marks the first regular appropriation the agency has received. The new funds will allow ARPA-E, which was created with $400 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to develop five additional high-risk, high-reward research programs.
- Plants Engineered To Replace Oil (PETRO)
- High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS)
- Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT)
- Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI)
- Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (Solar ADEPT)
ARPA-E awarded $363 million of the initial $400 million it received in stimulus funds to 121 energy projects with the potential to produce “game-changing” breakthroughs in energy storage, energy efficiency and similarly essential fields of energy research.
The new programs will fill critical funding gaps. PETRO will support projects pursuing the design of plants that convert energy from one form into another more efficiently. HEATS will focus on thermal energy storage technologies that could enable power plants to store and use excess energy for peak demand. GENI will support development of software and hardware that enhanced control of the electricity grid. Solar ADEPT will be part of DOE’s larger SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the total cost of utility-scale solar systems by 75 percent by the end of the decade.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said these programs will support the nation’s effort to compete in the emerging “global clean energy race.”