DOE awards funding to boost clean energy commercialization

By Manette Newbold Fisher

Friday, July 16, 2021

Sandia’s Brandon Ennis holds a carbon fiber plank
CLEAN ENERGY ASSISTANCE — Sandia’s Brandon Ennis holds a carbon fiber plank, a new material that could bring cost and performance benefits to the wind industry. DOE recently awarded funding that will enable Sandia researchers to work with more companies developing clean energy technologies. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Sandia is partnering with New Mexico State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Economic Development Department to create a new pipeline for energy technology to reach the market using funding from the Department of Energy.

DOE awarded $1 million in Energy Program for Innovation Clusters funding to the regents of New Mexico State University in June. The funding will be used by the university to work with regional stakeholders on new programming through the New Mexico Clean Energy Resilience and Growth Cluster. Together, the university’s Arrowhead Center technology transfer office, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories and the New Mexico Economic Development Department plan to help startups commercialize clean energy technologies.

“This funding builds on already established partnerships to heighten the impact Sandia researchers have outside the labs, which in turn will strengthen the economy and enable the private sector to press forward in solving challenging issues,” said Mary Monson, Sandia senior manager of technology partnerships and business development.

NM CERG will be established as a regional engagement strategy that supports New Mexico clean energy tech companies in developing hardware and software to meet growing demands for clean and renewable energy sources and technologies.

“We will create a pipeline of support for these startups, solidifying New Mexico’s role in the clean energy economy and support the commercialization of technologies that have global impacts. We can’t wait to get started,” said Dana Catron, director of strategic operations at the Arrowhead Center and project director for NM CERG.

The Arrowhead Center will provide education and support to startup businesses, while the New Mexico Economic Development Department will support cluster expansion and promotions. Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories will provide expertise, programming, online training and support to New Mexico businesses working to commercialize technologies developed by the companies or transferred from the labs.

When companies are matched with the labs through NMSU, the labs will utilize the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program and the Technology Readiness Gross Receipts Initiative to provide mentorship, technology validation, prototyping, production assistance, testing and design services. The Sandia Labs C3 space in downtown Albuquerque will also be available for NM CERG to use for meetings and events.

NMSU has partnered with Sandia in the past and has been able to connect the labs with small businesses facing technical problems.

“We look forward to expanding our efforts with NM CERG. When we help companies take clean energy technologies to the marketplace, the state benefits from additional job opportunities, as well as stronger economic and climate security,” said David Kistin, Sandia manager of technology and economic development.

According to a DOE news release, the funding announcement is the second of a two-part program created by DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions — in collaboration with DOE’s Building Technologies Office, the Arctic Energy Office, and the Office of Electricity — to support robust energy innovation ecosystems and stimulate energy hardware development in regions across the United States. Last year, DOE awarded $1 million to 20 incubators and accelerators across the nation.

Sandia awarded $2 million to work with energy companies in other states, UK

In addition to funding that will establish NM CERG, the DOE Office of Technology Transitions Technology Commercialization Fund awarded Sandia $2 million in public and private funding to boost commercialization of promising energy technologies.

Twelve national laboratories received commitments from private sector partners to match at least 50% of the anticipated federal funding. DOE provided $30 million in federal funding that was matched by more than $35 million in private sector funds for 68 projects that will accelerate the commercialization of promising energy technologies.

Sandia will use its funding to work with companies in New Mexico, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and the United Kingdom on projects that include alkaline water electrolysis, improved power converters for microgrids, robotics for the optimization of wind energy generation, among others.