The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0002641) for up to $100 million to support the scaling and deployment of high-risk and potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications. “Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential” 2021 (SCALEUP 2021) provides further funding to previous ARPA-E awardees that have been determined to be feasible for widespread deployment and commercialization domestically.
In 2019, ARPA-E issued its first SCALEUP funding opportunity (earlier post), which paved the way for further advancement of their respective technologies for future commercialization. The types of projects in this SCALEUP cohort addressed methane emissions detection, electrical energy storage, energy efficiency technologies, and grid modernization.
An enduring challenge to ARPA-E’s mission is that even technologies that achieve substantial technical advancement under ARPA-E support are at risk of being stranded in their development path once ARPA-E funding ends (averaging $2.5 million over three years).
ARPA-E-funded technologies typically face significant remaining technical risks upon completion of an award’s funding period. Experience across ARPA-E’s diverse energy portfolios, and with a wide range of investors, indicates that pre-commercial “scaling” projects are critical to establishing that performance and cost parameters can be met in practice for these very early-stage technologies.
These pre-commercial scaling projects aim to translate the performance achieved at bench scale to commercially scalable versions of the technology, integrate the technology with broader systems, provide extended performance data, and validate the manufacturability and reliability of new energy technologies.
(These projects are often termed “pre-pilot” development in different industries.) Success in these scaling projects would enable industry, investors, and partners to justify substantial commitments of financial resources, personnel, production facilities, and materials to develop promising ARPA-E technologies into early commercial products.
The SCALEUP 2021 FOA builds upon ARPA-E-funded technologies by scaling the most promising ARPA-E-funded technologies in their development pathways.
Because of the breadth of energy technologies solicited under the SCALEUP 2021 FOA, technical and project targets are not specified. Applicants need to address how the proposed scale-up or pre-pilot project will sufficiently advance the technology to enable a path to market and ultimately lead to realized commercial impact.
The proposed potential impacts must fall within the agency’s mission areas: reducing imported energy; reducing energy-related emissions with a primary focus on greenhouse gases; improving energy efficiency; providing transformative solutions to manage radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel; improving the resilience, reliability, and security of energy infrastructure; and ensuring the US maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies—including substantial US manufacturing of resulting technologies.