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From Zero to $180 Million in Five Days

April 22, 2011 - 10:44am


The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, known as ARPA-E, is at the forefront of energy innovation. Much like the Department of Defense’s DARPA, we’re supporting research into cutting-edge technologies that can find solutions to our challenges and strengthen American economic competitiveness. These projects are generating excitement -- just take a look at the private sector’s reaction. Six ARPA-E projects have been able to advance their research efforts and show their potential viability, which has allowed them to attract an additional $100 million in outside private capital investment.

ARPA-E was funded for the first time in the Recovery Act. As a sign of the broad support the program enjoys, Congress provided $180 million for the program in the budget that was recently passed.

This week, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar announced that ARPA-E is issuing its 4th round of funding opportunities totaling up to $130 million. The agency’s FY 2011 budget enabled it to create five new programs areas that could lead to transformative energy technologies that will make our country more secure and more prosperous.

Now what exactly are these five new game-changing programs?

  1. Plants Engineered To Replace Oil (PETRO): PETRO aims to create plants that capture more energy from sunlight and convert that energy directly into fuels.
  2. High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS): HEATS seeks to develop revolutionary cost-effective thermal energy storage technologies.
  3. Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT): REACT aims to fund early-stage technology alternatives that reduce or eliminate the dependence on rare earth materials by developing substitutes in two key areas: electric vehicle motors and wind generators.
  4. Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI): GENI aims to fund innovative control software and high-voltage hardware to reliably control the grid.
  5. Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (Solar ADEPT): Solar ADEPT aims to invest in key advances in magnetics, semiconductor switches, and charge storage, which could reduce power conversion costs.

As the President said when mentioning ARPA-E in a speech at Facebook’s headquarters this week, the agency is a critical piece of the clean energy puzzle that will help “figure out what are the next breakthrough technologies that can help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.” ARPA-E’s 4th funding opportunity presents unlimited possibilities for America’s energy future and economic prosperity.