WSGR ALERT

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Requests Industry Comment on Future Funding Solicitations Totaling More than $100 Million

February 23, 2012

The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) recently released three Requests for Information (RFIs) related to more than $100 million in anticipated future funding opportunities. The RFIs encourage input from private industry regarding ARPA-E's planned program objectives and expenditures for fiscal year 2012. ARPA-E's mission is to identify and fund research that transforms science into breakthrough energy technologies, and to fund ideas that are too risky for the private sector but that, if successfully developed, will create the foundation for entirely new industries.

On February 8, 2012, ARPA-E released its first two RFIs pertaining to (1) how the agency should generally allocate its efforts and funds (in light of its existing projects in the portfolio) and (2) what types of projects the agency should consider in the next iteration of its "Electrofuels" platform. On February 17, 2012, ARPA-E issued a third RFI specifically requesting feedback on technologies to support "smart batteries" or advanced management and controls for energy storage systems.

ARPA-E's general RFI provides an opportunity for industry to review and submit comments relevant to the agency's proposed broad funding opportunity announcement (FOA). This broad solicitation is expected to guide the agency's spending of approximately $100 million, and it includes a proposed list of clean energy topics that reflect the program's interests for the year. In anticipation of the release of the final FOA in early March, all comments to the general RFI must be submitted electronically by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

Next, ARPA-E's Electrofuels program RFI seeks input on the technologies essential for energy assimilation, carbon fixation, and direct fuel/fuel precursor synthesis by chemo/electro-autotrophic microorganisms, or "chemolithoautotrophs." Unlike the general solicitation described above, the purpose of this RFI is to solicit input specifically related to ARPA-E's development of future chemo/electro-autotrophic fuel-production programs. The agency is interested in next generation concepts that push the boundaries of what was tested and achieved in the first set of Electrofuels projects. Submitting comments to the RFI, in addition to meeting with the program officials, offers a great opportunity for companies to determine whether their concepts are aligned with program interests and to proactively shape the future Electrofuels program. Responses must be submitted electronically by 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, April 30, 2012.

Finally, ARPA-E is seeking input regarding "smart battery" concepts, or technologies that provide diagnostic, prognostic, and control capabilities to significantly increase the safety, reliability, operational life, and charge/discharge ratings of energy storage technologies. Feedback from the agency indicates that this FOA concept is intended to complement (but not overlap with) the work already being done in battery development. Similar to the other RFIs, comments to this proposed FOA will inform ARPA-E's interests and priorities in future energy storage management systems programs. Comments should be submitted by 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, March 9, 2012.

Links to all three RFIs can be found at https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/#93782cc4-7954-4277-bbdb-d392e0be2f46.

For more information, please contact Sara Hochman (shochman@wsgr.com), Taite McDonald (tmcdonald@wsgr.com), or Chris Groobey (cgroobey@wsgr.com), or another member of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's energy and clean technology practice.