On January 23 and 24, 2019, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced $78 million in federal funding to improve existing coal-fired power plants and for grid modernization.  Both funding programs come from DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy.

The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy is responsible for federal research, development, and demonstration efforts on advanced power generation, power plant efficiency, water management, and carbon capture utilization and storage technologies.  As part of that responsibility, the Office of Fossil Energy states that it is seeking to utilize all energy resources to ensure the reliability and resiliency of our nation’s electricity.

On January 23, 2019, the DOE announced that $38 million in federal funding will go toward improving existing coal-fired power plants.  The announcement notes that the existing coal fleet provides approximately 30 percent of U.S. electricity.  The money, which is also part of the Coal First Initiative, will fund cost-shared research and development projects that “improve the overall performance, reliability, and flexibility of the nation’s existing coal-fired power plant fleet.” Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes explained that “modernizing and advancing the existing coal fleet” is critical to the mission of ensuring “the reliability and resiliency of our nation’s electricity . . . .”  Furthermore, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg said that “modernizing the existing coal-fired fleet is critical to our effort to allow existing coal plants to load, follow and operate more efficiently.”  The funding will be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Subsequently, on January 24, 2019, the DOE announced that $40 million in federal funding will also go toward grid modernization.  The announcement notes that a reliable and resilient grid is essential to our nation’s economic and national security.  This money is intended to fund innovations and technologies designed to increase the resilience, reliability, and security of an integrated grid.  Research topics are expected to include resilience modeling, advanced sensors, energy storage, cybersecurity, and institutional support.  Actual funding will be committed to the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium.

Both of DOE’s funding announcements are also associated with DOE’s Crosscutting Research Program, which works with public and private partners to develop new tools and transformative technologies that can be applied to fossil energy systems.

A copy of each announcement is available here.