The Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all issued announcements on December 14 related to efforts to expand the environmental innovation economy. DOE and EPA have pledged a total of $57 million in funding for small businesses to develop environmental technologies, and DOE and DOT have partnered to invest $7.5 million in building a nationwide electric vehicle charging network.
In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to build the American economy back better, the DOE announced a plan to provide $54 million for small businesses pursuing climate and energy research and development (R&D) projects, as well the development of advanced scientific instrumentation through a funding opportunity announcement (FOA). Areas of interest include renewable energy, carbon management, fusion and nuclear energy, advanced grid technologies, and cybersecurity.
“The SBIR program plays an important role in fueling U.S. innovation to answer the pressing challenges we face as a society,” said Under Secretary for Science and Energy Geraldine Richmond. “Small businesses are critical players in our innovation ecosystem and we must enable their contributions towards tackling the climate crisis, deploying next generation clean energy technologies, and leading the research breakthroughs at the core of America’s scientific leadership.”
This funding will be administered by DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and will encourage participation of diverse communities in technological innovation, as well as technology transfer between research institutions and small businesses.
The EPA announced $3,089,894 in funding to 30 American small businesses to develop novel technologies to address pressing environmental and public health problems. These companies are employing innovative approaches like an automated waste sorting system at the point of disposal; a system that employs technology to capture and destroy airborne bacteria and viruses; and a monitoring system that can map methane concentrations and emissions over large areas.
“As emerging technologies continue to rapidly change the world, our nation’s small businesses are at the forefront of harnessing these technologies to address today’s environmental challenges,” said Wayne Cascio, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “We are excited to watch these small companies bring innovative ideas to the marketplace and help revolutionize improving our environment, public health and the economy.”
EPA’s SBIR Program runs an annual, two-phase competition for funding. The 30 small businesses below are receiving up to $100,000 of Phase I funding for six months for “proof of concept” of their proposed technology. Companies that complete Phase I can then apply to receive Phase II funding of up to $400,000 to further develop and commercialize their technology.
Finally, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced a memorandum of understanding to create a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to support the deployment of $7.5 billion from the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for a national electric vehicle charging network that can build public confidence, with a focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations.
This is a critical component of the President’s plan to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directs both agencies to collaborate on new programs and initiatives, including the new joint office, that will support the transition of the nation's transportation systems, which currently accounts for 29% of all U.S. carbon pollution, to electric vehicles and other zero-carbon technologies.
“Transportation is responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions of any sector in our economy - so it can and must be a big part of the solution to the climate crisis,” Buttgieg said. “With this announcement by DOT and DOE, we are taking a big step forward on climate by helping make the benefits of EVs more accessible for all Americans.”
The Joint Office will help to accelerate effective deployment of a convenient, reliable, affordable, and equitable national network of charging stations. The Office will provide technical assistant to States and localities so that they can strategically build electric vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure. This assistance will include helping states develop comprehensive plans for charging station networks to guide the implementation of the $7.5 billion program.
Both agencies are tasked with implementing investments in zero-emission vehicle passenger, transit and heavy-duty vehicles that create cleaner and more affordable transportation options for all Americans. These investments support President Biden’s executive order in August setting a national goal of half of all new vehicles sold in the United States being electric by 2030.