As one the largest funders and performers of research and technology transfer in the country, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is a major part of the energy innovation “ecosystem,” supporting research, development, and demonstration (RD&D), technology transfer, technical assistance, and other activities, including through 17 DOE National Laboratories, four energy innovation hubs, and 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers. DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are not yet mature enough for private investment. Through competitive project selection processes, energy innovators can apply to receive funding, technical assistance, and market readiness assistance.
Established in December 2021, the DOE Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) was created to deliver commercial-scale clean energy demonstration projects (including various authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act/Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) in partnership with the private sector to launch or accelerate market adoption and deployment of technologies, as part of an equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system. OCED investments are part of a clear progression between the research, development, and early-stage demonstration projects within DOE technology offices and initial deployments supported by the private sector or other programs, such as the Loan Programs Office, ensuring coherent strategies for advancing and deploying clean energy technologies and systems.
DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions, branded as the “front door” of DOE’s R&D and commercialization programs apparatus, defines DOE’s policy and vision for expanding the commercial impact of its research investments, and it streamlines information and access to DOE’s national labs and sites to foster partnerships that will move innovations from the labs into the marketplace.
Also supported by DOE, the American-Made program incentivizes innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring, connecting the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators to America’s national labs and the private sector.
Beyond DOE, other federal agencies invest in energy-related technologies, among them are the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Within the DOD, the Strategic Environmental Technology R&D Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) have a significant energy technology focus. The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports a wide range of science and engineering research, including energy-related work. The U.S. Small Business Administration is also pertinent, including through the Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR and STTR) programs offered by federal R&D agencies and support of technology accelerators and other resources. The General Services Administration operates the GSA Proving Ground program to demonstrate and evaluate relevant building technologies. The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer offers a gateway to federally-supported technologies and technology transfer resources.
Greater and more systematic state-federal coordination and communication on energy technology RD&D offers multiple potential benefits: heightened understanding of state and local policy and market conditions that affect energy technology markets and commercialization opportunities; coordinating RD&D, technical and business assistance, and other resources; and increased ability to leverage state-level investments, financing, and incentives as cost-match for federally-supported technology and business development. State Energy Offices are encouraged to work through NASEO, the State Energy Advisory Board (STEAB), OTT, and other coordination bodies in order to learn about and support energy technology innovation and commercialization.
The following list describes select federal agencies and programs that may offer resources and opportunities for partnership with State Energy Offices interested in energy technology innovation and commercialization.