Thank you for that introduction, John (John O’Donnell, President and CEO of the Washington Auto Show). 


It’s a great pleasure to be with all of you at the opening of one of D.C.’s premier, bipartisan events, the Washington Auto Show. 


Let’s be honest. There’s a lot that divides us in this town. 


But we all love new cars … fast cars … exotic cars. 


And when we’re not stuck in traffic … we love the feeling of the open road.


An open road means more than “driving” …it means possibility … opportunity … freedom. 


That’s what we are dedicated to at the Department of Energy. 


And we have a great story to tell.


With the power of innovation squarely in the driver’s seat of our country, we are producing energy more abundantly and affordably, and from a wider range of sources than ever before. 


And through innovation, we’re also using energy more cleanly and more efficiently as well. 


We have seen incredible changes across the energy landscape. 


Today, America is the world’s top producer of both oil and natural gas, and this year, we expect to become a net energy exporter. 


We also expect to reach new records in oil production for the next two years, producing 13.3 million barrels per day in 2020 and 13.7 million barrels per day in 2021. 


This year we’ll also build on our record levels of natural gas production. We’ve been a net exporter of natural gas for more than two years, and that trend seems likely to continue through 2050.


Today, we export LNG to 37 nations …and counting.


And by the close of 2020, we will have doubled our LNG export capacity in two years. 


This means more than just energy – it means jobs, prosperity, and opportunity. 


We’ve also seen historic growth in renewable energy. Today, America is the second-largest generator of wind and solar energy in the world, and our production is still rising. 


Our country has made such magnificent strides in producing every form of energy, even as it has been simultaneously cleaning the air and reducing emissions. 


Since 2005, national greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 13 percent, and power sector emissions have fallen by 27.6 percent, also according to the EPA.


In fact, the U.S. is the world leader in reducing energy-related carbon emissions, and those emissions are expected to decline even further for the next two years. 


On the broader economic front, the Trump Administration has enacted the largest tax cuts and reforms in U.S. history, making our business tax rate competitive with the world.  


We have cut more regulations than any other administration in U.S. history – with nearly twenty-two regulations cut for each new one created, saving families and businesses more than $300 billion dollars per year. 


And our bilateral trade deals are projected to strongly increase domestic economic activity and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.


We’re incredibly proud of this progress. Yet we recognize there’s much more we can do, especially in the transportation sector.


That’s why I’m pleased to announce that we at DOE are providing almost $300 million for research and development in sustainable transportation resources and technologies … all of which are intended to provide auto aficionados like you with greater choices on how to meet your transportation needs.   


This work, which will be led by our Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, spans three areas: vehicle technologies, biofuels, and hydrogen fuels. 


The Vehicles Technologies Office will release a Multi-Topic funding opportunity for up to $133 million. The topic areas within this FOA address priorities in advanced batteries and electrification; advanced engine and fuel technologies, including technologies for off-road applications; lightweight materials; new mobility technologies (energy efficient mobility systems), and alternative fuels technology demonstrations.  


The Fuel Cells Technologies Office will release H2@Scale New Markets funding opportunity for up to $64 million. This investment will support innovative hydrogen concepts that will encourage market expansion and increase the scale of hydrogen production, storage, transport, and use, including heavy-duty trucks, data centers and steel production.


And finally the Bioenergy Technologies Office will issue a multi-topic funding opportunity for up to $100 million. These topic areas within this FOA support the U.S. bioeconomy by reducing the price of drop-in biofuels, lowering the cost of biopower, and enabling high-value products from biomass or waste resources.


In addition to this $300 million investment, our ARPA-E program has also provided some $443 million in funding to 173 projects in transportation technology over the course of its existence, and today, transportation and related storage technologies make up about 20 percent of ARPA-E’s active program funding. 


To take just one example, ARPA-E’s NEXTCAR (Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles) program was among the first federal R&D efforts to focus specifically on energy efficiency in connected and automated vehicle applications. And today, software developed by NEXTCAR funding is being evaluated for use by GM, Cummins, Toyota and Hyundai, among others. 


We’re making such investments for a number of important reasons. 


Today, transportation is the second highest expense for American households, after housing itself, and it requires nearly 30 percent of the energy we use as a country. 


And as we know from living in D.C. – and having to occasionally jump out of the way of an oncoming scooter – the transportation system is undergoing fundamental changes. 


Those changes offer new choices for us to meet our individual transportation needs. And that’s what we’d like to see, now and in the future. 


So in addition to the areas I mentioned, we’re also doing a great deal of work in battery research. 


I’m especially proud of the fact that two of last year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – which was given for the development of lithium-ion batteries – were supported by DOE. 


This past fiscal year, we provided more than $140 million to support energy storage, and last month we launched our Energy Storage Grand Challenge. 


Oure goal is to accelerate the development, commercialization and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies, as well as to sustain America’s global leadership in energy storage. 


As you know, batteries and electric vehicles – as well as many other essential technologies – use critical materials, and their demand is continuing to grow. However, we import most of our critical mineral commodities, which creates tremendous supply-chain vulnerabilities. 


In response, the Department is leading the way in reducing our dependence on critical materials by reducing the amount of the materials needed for battery production and recycling the materials already in use.


Last year we dedicated the ReCell Battery Recycling R&D Center and launched Lithium Ion Battery Recycling Prize. 


The goal is to develop technologies to profitably capture 90% of all lithium-based battery technologies in the United States and recover 90% of the key materials from the collected batteries. 


If we can achieve that goal, we estimate that recycled material could provide one-third of our cathode material needs for lithium-ion batteries by 2025. 


Combined with a domestic upstream supply chain, this would go a long way toward reducing America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals.


And as electrification plays a greater role in our transportation system, closer coordination with utilities will be essential. 


That’s why today I’m also pleased to announce a Memorandum of Understanding with the Electric Power Research Institute. This MOU will join our expertise and capabilities with EPRI’s research and development in electric vehicle and infrastructure technologies in order to further accelerate the development and deployment of innovative electronic transportation systems.  


It will also further the collaboration we have with EPRI through our partnership with U.S. DRIVE, a group that has been extremely valuable to our efforts in automotive and related energy infrastructure technology R&D.


The MOU will enable us to work together toward a more resilient and reliable grid, even as we ask it to do more to power EVs. 


High priority areas for collaboration that we’re initially focusing on include:

  • Fast charging technologies and energy storage integration;
  • Smart charging strategies, in addition to fleet electrification needs and strategies;
  • Integrating electric charging with utility planning and operations, including impacts and services to the grid and impact mitigation technologies … and
  • Using data analytics and cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning for electrification applications. 


Through better coordination and engagement, I’m optimistic that we can not only overcome technical challenges, but change the energy and transportation landscape. 


And our partners – including our 17 National Labs, universities, and the private sector – are absolutely essential in our efforts to make it happen.


I’ve noted our work with EPRI and US DRIVE, and just last week, our Oak Ridge National Laboratory signed an agreement with the University of Tennessee and Volkswagen to create the company’s first innovation hub in North America. The hub will initially be focused on developing lighter vehicle components made from composites and the electrification of vehicles. 


In addition to our work in carbon composites, we’re doing a great deal of work with our partners in advanced manufacturing. This was a focus of one of our previous InnovationXLab Summits, and we’re striving to use our great strengths in supercomputing – the Department’s National Labs – which have the world’s two fastest supercomputers and four of the top ten – to take on tough manufacturing challenges that can be solved through computer modeling. 


One focus of our efforts is the High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation Program, a consortium of nine National labs led by Lawrence Livermore, which partners with the private sector to leverage our world-class computing resources to make manufacturing advances. 


We’re also dedicated to becoming a world-leading enterprise in the research, development and adoption of AI. To make it happen, and to coordinate our tremendous array of AI activities, we recently created the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office. 


Today we lead more than 600 different AI projects to strengthen our core missions of energy, cyber, and national security, and to accelerate scientific discovery. 


Artificial intelligence will also advance work in autonomous vehicles and smart cities, and may even offer a way around – and through – some of our most vexing traffic dilemmas, although no matter how smart and sophisticated they become, one can be forgiven for wondering whether anyone or anything can truly solve the challenges of our Beltway. 


And finally I would like to announce that next week the Department will be hosting an InnovationXLab Summit at our Berkeley Lab, which will be focused on ways we can better engage with industry in the area of biomanufacturing … and create the products and jobs and even the industries of tomorrow. 


To give a couple of examples, we recently announced a Plastics Innovation Challenge, which will create a comprehensive program to accelerate innovations that dramatically reduce plastic waste in oceans and landfills, as well as position the U.S. a global leader in advanced plastics recycling technologies and in the manufacturing of new plastics that are recyclable by design.


Our Bioenergy Technology Office is working with LanzaTech and Northwestern University on cell-free prototyping systems to help create pathways to new fuels and chemicals for LanzaTech’s gas fermentation platform without the need to test each combination in living cells. 


And as part of the $100 million bioenergy funding announcement that I mentioned earlier, we’ll work on innovative and affordable ways to sort municipal solid waste, remove contaminants, and generate materials streams that can be recycled to new fuels and products, such as plastics that can be used in vehicles. 


We’ll also establish a multi-university partnership for developing innovative technologies to manage major forms of urban and suburban waste, which will focus on developing new strategies for transforming plastic waste into finished products. 


As we do so, we’re driving biology and biomanufacturing to develop new organisms and biological processes that use carbon dioxide to produce fuels and chemicals. 


These are great challenges, great efforts indeed. 


But tackling great challenges often creates greater opportunities. And that is, emphatically, our mission at DOE, addressing America’s greatest energy challenges through transformative science and technology. 


And that’s also our country at its best: Firmly in the driver’s seat with the technologies of tomorrow … and a wide open road ahead. 


Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the show.