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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched two new program offices – the Grid Deployment Office and the Office of State and Community Energy Programs – which together will drive more than $23 billion in investments to expand the capacity of the power grid and deploy cheaper, cleaner energy.
The two offices will be administered through DOE’s Office of the Under Secretary for Infrastructure, with funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Law Infrastructure.
Both the offices will actively engage in dialogue with environmental justice groups, labor, and communities to help shape program development and execution.
As per the independent estimates projected by the DOE, America’s current power transmission systems would need to expand by 60% by 2030 and may need to triple by 2050 to meet the growing electricity needs of all communities.
The Grid Deployment Office will improve power delivery and reliability while modernizing and upgrading the power grid and critical electricity-generating facilities. The office will invest $17 billion in programs and projects to collaborate with community and industry stakeholders.
The collaboration will identify and address the country’s transmission, distribution, and clean generation needs. The Grid Deployment Office would also initiate measures to save nuclear power plants from retiring, which provide the nation’s biggest share of carbon-free electricity. The office will also work to support the upgradation of the hydropower facilities.
The Office of State and Community Energy Programs will work to increase the pace of deploying clean energy technologies to mitigate energy costs for households and businesses while creating high-quality jobs and bolstering economic development locally.
Under the program, DOE has announced around $6 billion in grants for states, tribal nations, territories, local governments, school districts, and non-profits, aiming to invest in projects that would increase access to clean energy for low-income households, businesses, and communities.
$675 million Critical Materials Program
The U.S. government recently issued a Request for Information (RfI) on developing and implementing a $675 million Critical Materials Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercialization program funded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The last date to submit the feedback for the RfI is September 9, 2022.
The program will address vulnerabilities in the domestic materials supply chain as many critical materials like lithium, nickel, and cobalt are required to manufacture clean energy technologies, including solar panels, batteries, electric vehicles, and wind turbines.
DOE’s Critical Materials Program is being expanded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to develop materials, components, and technologies and promote efficient production and use while ensuring a long-term, diverse, secure, and sustainable supply of materials in demand.
The program aims to encourage circular economy approaches to limit and reuse materials that go into diverse photovoltaics and lithium-ion battery designs.
DOE’s $675 million program targets increased domestic raw-materials production and manufacturing capacity, aiming reduced dependence on foreign sources, secure America’s clean energy supply chain, and introduce more jobs associated with the clean energy transition.
The global demand for critical materials is likely to surge by 400-600% in the decades ahead. The requirement for lithium and graphite used in EV batteries is expected to rise by 4,000%.