DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations: Bringing Emerging Clean Energy Technologies from Dream to Reality

Clean energy technology is an ever-changing, growing field that is crucial to reducing global greenhouse gases. Despite our progress, the simple fact remains the U.S. does not currently have the commercially available technology to produce widescale on-demand zero-emissions power, or capture, utilize, and store the carbon at the scale needed to reduce greenhouse emissions to meet the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to limit global warming by 1.5° C.

One reason is that many of our nascent technologies get lost in the “valley of death” somewhere between research and development (R&D) and large-scale commercial viability. Pairing public- and private-sector experts to partner and bring clean energy technology to fruition is our way forward.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Commercial Energy Demonstration (OCED) was established in last year’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to combat this problem by centralizing experts from technology, finance, project management, and energy innovation into one office. This new office will steward emerging technologies from innovation through the demonstration stage.

The IIJA directs the DOE to provide more than $20 billion in funding through a competitive solicitation for early-stage companies to develop partnerships, resources, and information for the large-scale funding opportunities in OCED, such as conducting market analysis, understanding customer needs, and developing prototypes for customers.

The work of OCED will be an important part of moving up-and-coming clean energy technologies out of the laboratory and into the market. OCED is tasked with advancing technologies like carbon capture, advanced nuclear, energy storage, industrial emissions, electric grid adaptability, clean hydrogen hubs, and demonstrating clean energy development on former mine lands, among others. While these concepts and technologies have been proven at the prototype or pilot-stage, they are not yet ready to be commercially adopted and deployed at-scale. CRES hopes this new office will bridge the gap.

Opening our R&D development process is critical. The OCED gives the DOE an excellent opportunity to provide their own dedicated experts—from project and risk-management to technology and finance—to work with energy entrepreneurs and companies in the private sector.

Accordingly, CRES recently offered its recommended Fiscal Year 2023 funding level of at least $100 million to create an “on-ramp” for OCED’s large-scale opportunities funded by the IIJA. Due to its role in scaling up technologies that may not even exist yet, both existing and continued funding will assure it continues to fulfill its purpose to take on, manage, and demonstrate new and emerging technology for years to come. Scaling up innovative technologies will be a critical part of reducing carbon emissions worldwide.

Reducing carbon emissions is now a bipartisan imperative, and the OCED is a bridge for mitigating partisan differences by bringing value to all state, local, and tribal economies that proactively cultivate their clean energy sectors. Most importantly, established global climate goals cannot be achieved without facilitating new development and commercial adoption.

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