Even as Congress struggles to pass the Build Back Better Act with its promise of $500 billion in climate funding, other initiatives are underway in Washington to start rapidly spending the money committed to climate as part of the infrastructure bill that did make it through.
As part of that work, the Department of Energy has announced the formation of the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations -- a new branch within the DOE that will support clean energy demonstration projects in clean hydrogen, carbon capture, grid-scale energy storage, small modular reactors and more, the DOE said in a statement.
These projects are designed to prove out new technologies and rapidly get them on the path to low cost sources of funding like project financing and debt, which could speed up their deployment and move quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
With the launch, the U.S. Department of Energy now has more money to spend on projects beyond just initial research and development grants and small pilot projects.
It's a huge step forward in the effort to bring technologies to market more quickly and effectively. And it allows the government to boost development more rapidly than otherwise would have been possible.
Project financing for innovative new infrastructure projects has often been hamstrung by technical risk -- and with government funding now available to mitigate that risk, these projects should be able to get the financing they need to prove out that they work.
“Thanks to the investments Congress made in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations will move clean energy technologies out of the lab and into local and regional economies across the country, proving the value of technologies that can deliver for communities, businesses, and markets,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, in a statement.
The $20 billion creation of the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations is part of the $62 billion allocated to the Department of Energy under the Infrastructure Law
The demonstration projects will receive hundreds of millions (and in some cases billions) of dollars in funding to unlock follow-on investments from the private sector to create jobs around the country.
Much of that funding will also be deployed into rural communities -- a key tenet of teh Biden Administration's plans to "build back better".
It's a big step forward for U.S energy policy in a season where climate advocates have faced a number of setbacks -- and a gift to the country's sustainable energy future.