The US Department of Energy (DoE) on Tuesday launched the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations with $21.5bn in federal funding – the biggest single slice of which goes to green hydrogen – in a bid to realise the largest number of innovative carbon-free technology projects at scale in the nation’s history.
The new office “will move clean energy technologies out of the lab and into local and regional economies across the country, proving the value of technologies that can deliver for communities, businesses, and markets”, claimed energy secretary Jennifer Granholm.
President Joe Biden’s administration sees the new office as building on US clean energy research and development leadership globally and filling a “critical innovation gap” on the path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to DoE.
Among the technologies the office aims to demonstrate and scale-up are advanced nuclear reactors, direct air carbon capture, energy storage, green hydrogen, and industrial emissions removal.
The biggest slice of funding is $9.5bn is for green hydrogen to establish four regional hubs and a manufacturing and recycling programme, and to demonstrate and commercialise promising technologies.
Renewable H2 is already separately the focus of the first of the DoE’s ‘energy earthshot’ initiatives, which aims to slash the cost of production of the green fuel by 80% over the next decade.
Carbon capture is second with $3.5bn for pilot and demonstration projects followed by $2.5bn for advanced nuclear reactor demonstration. The office will also focus on development of marine energy, said to be one of the most promising sources of clean energy.
There is also $355m for research of potential reserves of critical minerals in the US such as rare earths elements and lithium employed to manufacture batteries and magnets for offshore wind turbines.
According to DoE, demonstration projects totaling billions of dollars investment will be located in rural areas and economically hard hit communities – a focus of Biden’s Justice40 initiative aimed at delivering 40% of clean energy investment benefits to those areas that “are experiencing the first and worst impacts of climate change”.
The Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations is the latest piece of in a green jigsaw designed to support Biden’s climate and energy agenda, currently under pressure in the Senate after a Democrat senator said he wouldn’t support the flagship $2trn Build Back Better legislative package designed to unleash massive investments.