DOE issues draft loan solicitation for up to $4B for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; drop-in biofuels a key area
The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the US that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee solicitation is intended to support technologies that will have a catalytic effect on commercial deployment of future projects, are replicable, and are market ready.
When finalized, the solicitation is expected to make as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available to help commercialize technologies that may be unable to obtain full commercial financing.
Within the draft solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the eligibility requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities; and efficiency improvements.
Drop-in Biofuels. These projects take advantage of existing infrastructure by providing nearly identical bio-based substitutes for crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel, or produce intermediate fuel feedstocks that can be delivered to and integrated into existing oil petroleum refineries. These types of projects would not be restricted by current ethanol/biodiesel blend levels and could drive a catalytic change in the fuels market.
DOE anticipates qualifying projects may include, but￼are not limited to: new bio-refineries that produce gasoline, diesel fuel, and/or jet fuel; bio-crude refining processes; and modifications to existing ethanol facilities to gasoline, diesel fuel, and/or jet fuel.
Advanced Grid Integration and Storage. This area focuses on renewable energy systems that mitigate issues related to variability, dispatchability, congestion, and control by incorporating technologies such as demand response or local storage. These advanced system designs will demonstrate greater grid compatibility of generation from renewable resources and open up an even larger role for renewable power generation.
DOE anticipates qualifying projects may include, but are not limited to: renewable energy generation, including distributed generation, incorporating storage; smart grid systems incorporating any combination of demand response, energy efficiency, sensing, and storage to enable greater penetration of renewable generation; micro grid projects that reduce CO2 emissions at a system level; and storage projects that clearly enable greater adoption of renewable generation.
Waste-to-Energy. This area focuses on projects harnessing waste products such as landfill methane and segregated waste as a source of energy. These types of projects will enable commercial scale utilization of waste materials which are otherwise discarded and produce significant clean, renewable energy. DOE anticipates qualifying projects may include, but are not limited to, the following: methane from landfills or ranches via biodigesters; crop waste to energy and bioproducts; and forestry waste to energy and co-firing.
Enhancement of Existing Facilities. This area focuses on projects incorporating renewable generation technology into existing renewable energy and efficient energy facilities to significantly enhance performance or extend the lifetime of the generating asset. DOE anticipates qualifying projects may include, but are not limited to, the following: incorporation of power production into currently non-powered dams; inclusion of variable speed pump- turbines into existing hydro facilities; and retrofitting existing wind turbines.
Efficiency Improvements. This area focuses on projects that incorporate new or improved technologies to increase efficiency and substantially reduce greenhouse gases. DOE anticipates qualifying projects may include, but are not limited to, the following: improve or reduce energy usage in residential, institutional, and commercial facilities, buildings, and/or processes; recover, store, or dispatch energy from curtailed or underutilized renewable energy sources; recover, store, or dispatch waste energy from thermal, mechanical, electrical, chemical or hydro-processes.
The Department welcomes public comment on a range of issues and will consider public feedback in defining the scope of the final solicitation. In addition to initiating a 30-day public comment period, a schedule of public meetings will be posted on the Department’s website.
Once the solicitation is finalized, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) will be accepting applications in three areas, which also include the $8-billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Solicitation that was released in December 2013 and the $16-billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.
The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy solicitation is authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 through Section 1703 of the Loan Guarantee Program. Currently, the LPO supports a diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 projects nationwide.