The Obama administration this week announced millions of dollars in new grants for dozens of projects related to advanced solar technology and other new clean energy technologies.
On Thursday, the Department of Energy said that it had awarded $156 million to fund 60 different cutting edge technology projects in five categories: low cost biofuels, substitutes for rare earths (the expensive minerals used in electric vehicle motors and wind turbines), advanced thermal storage systems including systems for storing solar energy, “smart grid” technology that integrates renewable energy alongside coal and nuclear power, and low cost utility-scale solar systems.
This particular grant program is administered by the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E.) The agency is modeled after DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, credited with developing the Internet and the computer chip.
Both agencies provide funding for high-risk, cutting edge research that would be difficult or impossible to finance through private investment.
ARPA-E was launched under the Bush administration but Congress did not provide funding until President Obama took office.
Separately, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five new grants for next-generation biofuel research and production totaling more than $136 million.
Other recent major clean energy announcements include a $105 million loan guarantee from DOE for an advanced ethanol refinery in Iowa, $350 million for a geothermal plant in Nevada, and almost $170 million for a wind farm in New Hampshire.
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