DOE announces ARPA-E funding opportunity

By Erin Voegele | January 23, 2015

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy has announced plans to award up to $125 million in support of transformational energy projects. The solicitation is the third open funding opportunity announcement (OPEN 2015) made by ARPA-E. 

“OPEN 2015 highlights ARPA-E’s commitment to transformational energy innovations,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We are excited to announce this open solicitation to support the development of a broad range of disruptive technologies, advancing our all-of-the-above energy strategy to ensure a secure, affordable and sustainable American energy future.”

According to the DOE, OPEN 2015 will support energy research and development projects from America’s top innovators for disruptive new technologies in transportation and stationary applications. Previous OPEN solicitations were made in 2009 and 2012. In a statement, the DOE explained that open solicitations ensure ARPA-E can support transformational projects outside the scope of existing ARPA-E focused programs.

The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) published by the DOE explains the areas of research responsive to this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to, electricity generation from renewable and nonrenewable means; electricity transmission, storage and distribution; energy efficiency for buildings, manufacturing and commerce, and personal use; and all aspects of transportation, including the production and distribution of renewable and nonrenewable fuels, electrification, and energy efficiency in transportation.

Bioenergy projects are among those eligible to compete for OPEN 2015 funding. Within the FOA, the DOE includes several subcategories of bioenergy projects, including biomass production projects that improve biomass characteristic. Subcategories are also listed for biological methods of biofuel production, biobiological methods of biofuel production, bioenergy supply chains, and other types of bioenergy categories.

The FOA also explains that APRA-E funds research on the development of high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. The agency funds technologies that have the potential to be disruptive in the marketplace. It does not fund projects aimed as basic research, full-scale demonstration of existing technologies, or technologies that represent incremental improvements to existing technologies.

Within the FOA, ARPA-E indicates it expects to make 30 to 50 awards under this solicitation, with individual awards ranging from $1 million to $10 million.

To date, ARPA-E has awarded funding to approximately two dozen advanced biofuel projects, including those pursued by Ceres, Chromatin, and Agrivida. Additional information on funded projects is available on the ARPA-E website

Applicants for the new OPEN 2015 FOA are required to submit a notice of intent by Feb. 20. Concept papers are due Feb. 27. A deadline has not yet been set for full applications. Additional information on the funding opportunity and application process is available on the DOE’s Funding Opportunity Exchange website under DE-FOA-0001261.