DOE revives loan program in search of energy storage breakthrough
- A Department of Energy (DOE) solicitation will use the last of the $1.5 billion in loan guarantees approved by Congress in 2009 to drive new kinds of advances in renewable energy technology in response to changes in utilities’ needs.
- Backing for technologies that support integration of distributed renewables into the grid could reach $4 billion under DOE’s 1703 loan guarantee program when $2 billion in other available funds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit subsidies are included.
- DOE will shift its emphasis from supporting utilities’ need to meet state renewables mandates to supporting their emerging need to meet energy storage procurement targets, expand demand response programs and implement initiatives to make grids more resilient. The first solicitation called for battery storage, microgrids, efficiency and waste-to-energy projects. Support for storage of grid-scale and distributed generation and advanced power electronics is expected.
This is different than the $16 billion 1705 program that stirred so much controversy. Its 97% success rate and the $8 billion in interest earned were overlooked in the trumpeted failures of Abound Solar and Solyndra.
The controversy was driven by Republicans asserting the government should not pick winners and losers though many had voted to support the program and backed loans. Controversy has been largely absent from 1703 program support of two large nuclear plants and $8 billion in funding for loan guarantees to support advanced fossil fuel projects.