Democratic News

Jun 18 2015

Cantwell Applauds $7 Million in Grants to Washington State Energy Projects

ARPA-E Grants Will Fund Research on Combined Heat and Power, Bioenergy Crop Development in Richland

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, applauded an announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) that it has awarded more than $7 million in grants to two projects in Richland, Washington, to advance research into residential combined heat and power generation and bioenergy crop development.

•A $3.7 million grant was awarded to the Infinia Technology Corporation to help develop combined heat and power generators that are more efficient, eliminate the need for maintenance, and reduce manufacturing costs.

•A $3.3 million grant was awarded to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to better predict plant composition and growth, and how such plants can stay resilient against drought and other environmental challenges. This research is particularly important, given the likelihood of sustained drought conditions in the coming years.

These grants were two of the 18 projects nationwide, selected to receive a total of $55 million in ARPA-E funding as part of ARPA-E’s two newest programs, which strive to develop generator technologies that will improve efficiencies in residential combined heat and power generation and accelerate energy crop development for the production of renewable transportation fuels from biomass.  ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy.

“The federal government is uniquely situated to take the long view of research investments in breakthrough energy and environmental sciences, as well as the technologies and applications that will ultimately make energy more affordable. We need to invest in research that matters and in the kinds of innovations brought to market by programs like ARPA-E,” Sen. Cantwell said.

Cantwell helped author the legislation creating the ARPA-E program, which is modeled after Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an organization that hired the best program managers from industry and acted quickly in initiating high risk, high payoff projects.  DARPA pioneered the use of technology competitions as a means to quickly accelerate innovation and the model has led to technological breakthroughs such as the Internet, stealth, robotics and the U.S. semiconductors industry’s SEMATECH. ARPA-E was authorized in August 2007 as part of the America COMPETES Act. This Congress, Sen. Cantwell and six other senators introduced legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act.