Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 16, 2022, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “Bioenergy Research and Development for the Fuels and Chemicals of Tomorrow.” According to the hearing charter, the purpose of the hearing was to examine the status of bioenergy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The hearing also considered advancements in bioenergy research and the potential role of this resource in a cleaner energy transition. Lastly, the hearing was intended to help inform future legislation to support and guide the United States’ bioenergy RD&D enterprise. Read more in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) March 18, 2022, memorandum, “House Committee Holds Hearing on Bioenergy RD&D for the Fuels and Chemicals of Tomorrow."


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On March 16, 2022, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on “Bioenergy Research and Development for the Fuels and Chemicals of Tomorrow.” According to the hearing charter, the purpose of the hearing is to examine the status of bioenergy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The hearing will also consider advancements in bioenergy research and the potential role of this resource in a cleaner energy transition. Lastly, the hearing will help inform future legislation to support and guide the United States’ bioenergy RD&D enterprise. Witnesses will include:

  • Dr. Jonathan Male, Chief Scientist for Energy Processes and Materials, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL);
     
  • Dr. Andrew Leakey, Director of the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign;
     
  • Dr. Laurel Harmon, Vice President of Government Affairs, LanzaTech; and
     
  • Dr. Eric Hegg, Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University.

The hearing charter notes that in addition to fuels, biomass can be used to create valuable chemicals and materials, known as “bioproducts.” According to the hearing charter, approximately 16 percent of U.S. crude oil consumption is used to make petrochemicals and products, such as plastics for industrial and consumer goods, fertilizers, and lubricants. Common biobased products include household cleaners, paints and stains, personal care items, plastic bottles and containers, packaging materials, soaps and detergents, lubricants, clothing, and building materials. The hearing charter states that the production of bioproducts relies on much of the same feedstocks, infrastructure, feedstock commoditization, and technologies that are central to biofuels production. Therefore, according to DOE, once technologies are proven for bioproduct applications, they could be readily transferred and greatly improve biofuel production.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On January 11, 2022, Michigan State Senator Kevin Daley (R, 31st Senate District) introduced a bill focused on growing alternative fuel production in Michigan and providing cleaner and cheaper options for Michigan drivers using biofuels produced with renewable energy from Michigan farms. Senator Daley highlighted that “Biofuels are a major economic engine for rural communities across Michigan, and they help position our state to rely less on foreign oil.” Creating a five-cents-per-gallon tax credit for the sale of ethanol 15 (E-15) fuel and a 0.085-cent-per-gallon for the sale of ethanol 85 (E-85) fuel, this legislation aims to contribute to the reduction of emissions and stabilize markets for Michigan farmers that supply the corn for Michigan’s five ethanol plants. Industry stakeholders such as the Michigan Corn Growers Association demonstrated support for the introduced bill, stating that COVID-19 had a large impact on family farmers and small business owners.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), in collaboration with the Algae Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, opened the AlgaePrize competition for high school through graduate students in the United States. This new prize focuses on the development, design, and invention of algal technologies to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through algae commercialization. During the competition, teams will participate in an 18-month process of pursuing the technologies for algae production, downstream processing, and/or identification of novel products or tools. The AlgaePrize grand champion winner will receive a total of $20,000 cash prize.
 
The competition is open to teams of two or more students who are currently enrolled in an education program based in the United States. Students interested in participating in the competition must register by March 2, 2022. Additional information is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On December 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of $54 million in seed funding for U.S. small businesses to research, develop, and create commercialization action plans for new technologies that accelerate the national transition to a clean energy economy. Led by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the opportunity provides that applicants may receive up to $250,000 and become eligible for up to $1.6 million in follow-on funding. To receive funding, applicants must have projects that can help:

  • Diversify sustainable sources of minerals and materials needed to manufacture clean energy technologies;
  • Enhance thermal energy storage technologies for buildings;
  • Improve recyclability and reuse of retired solar panels and components;
  • Increase hydropower and marine energy generation;
  • Convert biomass and other waste into cost-effective, carbon-free fuels; and
  • Develop technologies for affordable, efficient hydrogen production, delivery, and storage.

DOE will also award funding to proposals to license technologies developed by a DOE national lab. Small businesses interested in applying for an SBIR or STTR award must submit a letter of intent by January 3, 2022, 5:00 p.m. (EST). Full applications are due on February 22, 2022. A full list of topics and additional details about this opportunity are available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On December 8, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. The EO calls for the federal government to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. Using a whole-of-government approach, the federal government “will demonstrate how innovation and environmental stewardship can protect our planet, safeguard Federal investments against the effects of climate change, respond to the needs of all of America’s communities, and expand American technologies, industries, and jobs.” The EO directs agencies to “incentivize markets for sustainable products and services by prioritizing products that can be reused, refurbished, or recycled; maximizing environmental benefits and cost savings through use of full lifecycle cost methodologies; purchasing products that contain recycled content, are biobased, or are energy and water efficient, in accordance with relevant statutory requirements; and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchasing sustainable products and services identified or recommended by” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the fact sheet, sustainable products include “products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On September 30, 2021, DOE announced the launch of a new prize that will award up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to ten groups and organizations that support entrepreneurship and innovation in historically underserved communities. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize acknowledges that underserved populations have been and continue to be more susceptible to the negative impact of climate change, global warming, and pollution. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED), hope to improve disadvantaged communities’ access to clean energy innovation ecosystems and to opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to prioritize environmental and economic justice in the United States’ transition into a net-zero economy by 2050. The goals of the Prize are to:

  • Enable clean energy and climate innovation at colleges and universities serving large populations of students that are underrepresented in STEM, Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), community colleges, and undergraduate institutions.
     
  • Create and increase participation in clean energy and climate-smart job training and placement, including programs that target participation from:
     
    • Underserved populations;
       
    • Formerly incarcerated individuals; and
       
    • Youth transitioning from foster care.
       
  • Foster just and equitable clean energy deployment through grassroots innovation activities focused on community-centric networks and bottom-up solutions for sustainable development based on the needs of the communities involved.
     
  • Identify and fund activities that will help bring awareness to DOE, federal, state, local government, or private funding in support of the Justice40 goals.
     
  • Enable the development of replicable clean energy transitions that deliver just and equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities.

DOE and ED will distribute Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize funds in two phases. In Phase One, winners will receive an initial cash prize of $200,000 each, with an opportunity to receive additional awards, mentorship, and other services. Phase One winners will also be eligible for participation in Phase Two prizes. In Phase Two, up to three teams will receive cash prizes from a pool of $500,000.

Phase One applications may be submitted until 5:00 p.m. (EST) on February 25, 2022, with winner announcements in March 2022. Phase Two applications may be submitted beginning in March 2023. Information on how to apply is available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On August 26, 2021, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) announced the launch of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. The new prize will provide cash prizes of up to $250,000 each -- totaling $2.5 million -- to groups and organizations in support of entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underrepresented and underserved in the energy sector. Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman said that this new prize is part of EERE’s effort to address the urgent need for diversity in the funding applications EERE receives. Ms. Speakes-Backman added, “We know climate change disproportionally affects underserved communities, so it is also critical that we change that -- by partnering with these communities when developing climate solutions together.” This new prize aligns with President Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative that aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments in climate and clean energy to underserved communities.
 
In hopes of attracting and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize aims to:

  • “Support organizations to create or identify activities that provide incubation, acceleration, and community-based entrepreneurship and innovation services in climate and clean energy technologies.
  • Identify and fund activities that will help traditionally underrepresented groups apply for and receive DOE funding in support of DOE’s Justice40 goals.
  • Build trust and strengthen relationships and partnerships with underrepresented, underserved, and frontline communities or community-serving organizations to understand and lower barriers to entry to DOE funding opportunities.
  • Foster grassroots innovation in policy and process related to just and equitable clean energy deployment.
  • Support colleges, universities, and other educational institutions that serve large populations of students traditionally underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), including Minority Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, community colleges, and predominantly undergraduate institutions.”

The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize will open to submissions later in September 2021, welcoming applications from community-centric organizations and educational institutions with experience engaging with and promoting underrepresented communities. These organizations will support environmental, climate, and energy justice by using their experience and institutional knowledge to serve as a bridge between DOE and innovators.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On July 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new goal under the Energy Earthshot Initiative’s (Energy Earthshots): “Long Duration Storage Shot.” The Energy Earthshots program focuses on scientific breakthroughs that can lead to more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within this decade as the United States aims to achieve net-zero carbon goals by 2050. The second target within Energy Earthshots aims to accelerate innovation in long-term storage of clean electricity. Long duration energy storage, defined by DOE as systems that can store more than ten hours of energy at once, would facilitate the capture and storage of energy for later use when energy generation is unavailable or lower than demand. Scenarios provided by DOE include solar-generated power that could be used at night or nuclear energy generated during times of low demand to be used when demand increases. The Long Duration Storage Shot will consider all types of technology, including electrochemical, mechanical, thermal, chemical carriers, or combinations of these technologies.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it will host a webinar with EERE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Renewable Power, Alejandro Moreno, on June 17, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT). The one-hour webinar will cover activities, programs, and initiatives proposed in EERE’s budget request. EERE requested $4.7 billion in an effort to lead the transition of the national economy into a 100 percent clean energy economy. The webinar is titled “EERE FY 22 Budget Request: Renewable Power.” DAS Moreno will be joined by several directors from EERE’s Renewable Power Technology pillar:

  • Becca Jones-Albertus, Director, Solar Energy Technologies Office;
  • Jennifer Garson, Acting Director, Water Power Technologies Office;
  • Susan Hamm, Director, Geothermal Technologies Office; and
  • Robert Marlay, Director, Wind Energy Technologies Office.

The final 15 minutes will be reserved for questions. Registration is require via this link. EERE will host two additional webinars on the FY22 budget request for the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Transportation pillars.


 
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