DOE to invest $59M to expand biofuels production, target emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that $59 million has been earmarked for the acceleration of biofuels and bioproducts production to reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors, promote a net-zero economy, and produce new jobs for rural America.

These efforts will, in particular, affect the transportation sector, primarily the aviation, rail, and shipping sectors, according to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. She noted that energy harnessed from plants and waste matter would also provide a major chance to reduce emissions.

“DOE’s investment in biofuels is a key component of the Biden Administration’s effort to support clean energy technologies that increase our energy independence and move us closer to a net-zero carbon economy,” Granholm said.

While many industries are switching to electrification to meet current needs, the DOE stressed that the transportation sector is uniquely ill-suited. In particular, the marine and aviation sectors require higher energy densities to avoid the frequent stops long flights or cross-country rail routes would otherwise require. Fossil fuels allow this, but electrification would be unable to meet the need. However, sustainable, energy-dense, liquid biofuels are becoming a strong alternative to address these needs.

As a result, the DOE has posted a Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to advance biorefinery development and feedstocks improvement projects in pursuit of renewable diesel products. This FOA could fund between four and 20 projects and follows a similar FOA in 2021 that awarded $64 million to 22 projects developing technologies and processes to produce low-cost, low-carbon biofuels.

Concept papers for the scale-up FOA must be submitted by July 8, 2022, to be eligible to submit a full application.