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DOE to Invest up to $366 Million in Energy Innovation Hubs

January 6, 2010

DOE outlined plans on December 22, 2009, to invest up to $366 million to establish and operate three new Energy Innovation Hubs, each of which will focus on accelerating research and development in a key energy area. The three hubs will focus on producing fuels directly from sunlight; improving energy-efficient building systems design; and developing advanced nuclear reactors. Each hub, to be funded at up to $122 million over five years, will bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers in an effort to speed research and shorten the path from scientific discovery to technological development and commercial deployment of highly promising energy-related technologies. The hubs are expected to begin work in 2010 and become fully operational by 2011.

Of the two hubs that relate to renewable energy and energy efficiency, the Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub will likely draw on the mechanisms of photosynthesis, mimicking the ability of plants to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into sugar. Meanwhile, the Energy Efficient Building Systems Design Energy Innovation Hub will focus on advances in core technologies, such as advanced refrigeration cycles, combined with building system design and modeling to develop a fully instrumented building infrastructure. Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are encouraged to form partnerships that will compete for an award to establish and operate a hub. A Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) has been issued for the Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub, with a due date of March 29, and the FOAs for the other two hubs should be issued in January. Awards, based on evaluation by scientific peer review, will be announced next summer. See the DOE press release, the Hubs Web site, and the FOA for the Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub.