By Lynn L. Bergeson
On June 29, 2020, the United States (U.S.) Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published a request for information (RFI) on challenges and opportunities in the up- and mid-stream critical materials battery supply chains. As demand for critical materials such as lithium and cobalt for the manufacturing of batteries continues to grow, DOE is seeking ways to reduce U.S. dependence on critical materials. According to DOE’s EERE, it will achieve this goal by reducing the amount of critical materials needed for battery production and recycling materials that are already in use. Consequently, the RFI is seeking input on the current state of the battery cathode materials supply chains, as well as opportunities for near-term and long-term research and development (R&D). Responses to the RFI must be submitted by July 31, 2020, and will be considered in the development of the R&D federal strategy.
DOE’s Assistant Secretary for EERE, Daniel R. Simmons, stated that “Innovation in our domestic industries and continued investment by DOE programs will help strengthen our country’s ability to manufacture and recycle these materials, and work toward more robust domestic supply chains.” His statement and the RFI itself are in response to President Donald J. Trumps’ Executive Order 13817, titled “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
On January 30, 2020, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) submitted comments to USDA in response to its request for information (RFI) on the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). A new USDA Rural Development project, HBIIP is designed to expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels. USDA’s RFI solicited information on options for fuel ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from all HBIIP processes and/or science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit. A total of 56 comments were submitted in response to USDA’s RFI. NBB’s comments included a request for USDA to focus the program on opportunities that would invest in facilitating the greatest additional volumes of biodiesel (including bioheat and sustainable aviation fuel) to enter the marketplace. NBB also calls for direct investment in infrastructure instead of federal funding that incentivizes sales. According to NBB, infrastructure investments should include heated storage tanks, transfer stations, large-scale national retail chains, increased rail capabilities to move and store biodiesel, and pipeline terminals to blend biodiesel. Urging USDA to make HBIIP a multi-year program, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, Kurt Kovarik, expresses NBB’s optimism that HBIIP will facilitate biodiesel industry growth.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
September 25, 2019, DOE EERE announced via the Federal Register a request for information (RFI) on the identification of wells of opportunity for critical geothermal field research applications. DOE’s RFI is directed to the geothermal community, seeking information about underutilized wells in known geothermal resource areas in the United States. Its aim is to obtain feedback on industry willingness to partner with DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) to test downhole tools, technologies, and methodologies that can improve the probability of successful geothermal commercialization. Responses to the RFI can be submitted electronically and must be received by October 25, 2019. The complete RFI document can be accessed here.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On January 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the extension of the deadline for algae, biomass, and waste feedstock research request for information (RFI). EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is requesting information on research opportunities associated with alternative feedstocks that can be used in the production of biopower, bioproducts, and biofuel. Particularly of interest to DOE are the following topic areas: Outdoor Algae Research; Biomass Characteristics and Feedstock Performance; and Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Waste. Seeking input from academics, industry experts, national laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders, the RFI is designed to support early-stage research and development on technologies that can contribute to the maximization of U.S. biomass resources. Responses to the RFI must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 18, 2019.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On April 27, 2016, the Iowa Senate voted 49-0 to extend the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP) through June 30, 2017. The legislation, House File 2464, was passed by the Iowa House 94-0 and provides funding for cost-share grants to upgrade fueling infrastructure. RFIP covers up to 70 percent of the installation cost of E15, E85, or biodiesel blend fuel pumps for Iowa retailers, up to $50,000 per project. "While we were hopeful for a long-term funding solution for the state's renewable fuels infrastructure program, we're very pleased today that the Iowa legislature was able to keep this vital initiative going for another year," stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Policy Director Grant Menke. "The [U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA)] Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership re-energized many Iowa retailers, leading to record participation in the blender pump program over the past year. This one-year funding extension allows us to build upon this momentum and ensure Iowans have greater access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost renewable fuels." The current source of RFIP funding is ending after this extension, so there is still need for a long-term solution to helping retailers supply more renewable fuels and higher ethanol blends to consumers.
On September 3, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released a Request for Information (RFI) titled “High Yields through Productivity and Integration Research.” BETO is seeking input from industry, academia, and other stakeholders regarding supply systems and services for the cultivation, logistics, and preprocessing of algal feedstocks.
This RFI provides algae stakeholders with an opportunity to contribute their views on the requirements necessary to develop reliable and sustainable supplies of algal biomass, algal intermediates, and metabolites. Multiple types of algae, including microalgae, cyanobacteria, and macroalgae are of interest.