Eight companies working on clean energy technological advances have received millions in federal funding to help boost production of innovations that streamline sectors like offshore wind and pumped storage.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced Tuesday which companies had been selected to receive awards from a $100 million block of funding for technologies that had originally been funded by the Project Agency program of Advanced Research-Energy of the agency.
These awards underscore DOE’s commitment to the Biden administration’s clean energy agenda and are “aimed at reducing emissions, reducing reliance on critical mineral imports and advancing research,” the department said.
Recipients of Seed Critical Advances for Leading Energy Technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) funding, are described as “disruptive new technologies”.
Granholm said the DOE chose the winners because it believes their products will be “transformative” for industry and that the SCALEUP funds will “catalyze” the commercialization of the technologies so they can be “broadly implemented.”
The DOE cited Kent Houston Offshore Engineering’s two floating wind turbine technologies as “disruptive,” noting that the company’s focus on designing more efficient turbines and reducing manufacturing costs will lead to floating wind farms that produce cheaper electricity while achieving profitability. Kent received $17.5 million.
Quidnet Energy, which received $10 million, will use this funding to expand its geomechanically pumped storage technology into a system that can be used commercially. According to DOE, the first utility that will make use of this technology will be CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility and the largest in the US
Quidnet’s technology uses underground rock layers to avoid some of the limitations and expense of traditional pumped storage. During Tuesday’s press conference, Quidnet CEO Joe Zhou said the technology can be deployed “at a fraction of the cost” of pumped storage.
Existing pumped storage facilities generate energy for storage by pumping water from one reservoir to another at a much higher elevation, storing the water’s potential gravitational energy. Zhou said that the power required for this exceeds the amount of energy that can be stored, and the need for a difference in elevation requires the use of mountains, which limits the areas in which it can be used pumped storage.
Quidnet wants to “take mountains out of the equation,” Zhou said, by pumping water underground between layers of rock and using the pressure from those layers to generate the “weight of a mountain” needed to store energy.
Via Separations received $9.75 million to deploy a new type of membrane module for industrial manufacturing, which can reduce energy costs by 90%, according to DOE.
Via Separations CEO Shreya Dave said Tuesday that the company’s membrane technology could reduce emissions in the petrochemical, paper and pulp and chemical manufacturing industries by “three gigatons,” while capturing “byproducts valuables” that would previously have been lost in the separation process.
President Joe Biden’s goals to reduce greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050 “will require an acceleration of private sector investments in the clean energy and transportation sectors” , Granholm said.