Department of Energy Year in Review - 2018

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2018 Energy Department Accomplishments

The Department of Energy (DOE) is working to fulfill the President’s directive to maintain and build upon U.S. energy dominance, which will increase the country’s energy and national security, strengthen relationships with our allies around the world, foster innovation and open new and emerging markets.  

On behalf of the American people, DOE’s various Program Offices have compiled an impressive list of accomplishments since January 1, 2018.   

ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY – ENERGY (ARPA-E)

ARPA-E Hosts 9th Annual Energy Innovation Summit

Background: In March, ARPA-E hosted its Energy Innovation Summit, where it was announced that since 2009, 71 projects have formed new companies, 136 teams have raised over $2.6 billion in private follow-on funding, and, overall, teams have published 1,724 journal articles and received 245 patents.

ARPA-E Programs and FOAs

Background: In 2018, ARPA-E announced 28 project selections as part of its INTEGRATE, MEITNER and DAYS programs. ARPA-E announced an additional 40 projects as part of its OPEN 2018 program and five more as part of its first OPEN+ program for a total of 73 pioneering technology projects (to date).

NASA iTech

Background: ARPA-E collaborated with NASA to support their iTech technology competition. The multi-stage competition sought to foster innovative solutions for critical energy challenges on Earth and in space.

GO Competition (GO)

Background: ARPA-E launched the GO Competition on October 31, 2018 with a video announcement from Secretary Perry. Challenge 1 began this fall and offers up to $4 million in prizes to competitors who find faster, more efficient software algorithms to route power on the grid.

CYBERSECURITY, ENERGY SECURITY, AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE (CESER)

Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity

Background: DOE released the Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity, which identifies the goals, objectives, and activities that DOE will pursue over the next five years, to reduce the risk of energy disruptions due to cyber incidents.

Pipeline Cybersecurity Initiative

  • DOE and DHS announced the joint Pipeline Cybersecurity Initiative, a collaboration that will leverage the unique expertise of DOE, DHS, TSA, and other federal agencies to support the efforts of the Oil and Natural Gas Subsector Coordinating Council to address threats to our nation's pipelines.

Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems

  • CESER’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems division awarded $28 million for eleven projects to support the research, development, and demonstration of next-generation tools and technologies that will improve the cybersecurity and resilience of the nation's energy critical infrastructure, including the electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure. 

Disaster Response and Recovery

  • In 2018, CESER’s Infrastructure Security and Emergency Response division led successful responses to multiple catastrophic hurricanes and typhoons, three catastrophic wildfires, a volcanic eruption, and an earthquake. CESER’s Emergency Support Function #12 played an integral role in restoration, recovery, and energy security efforts across the country.
    • To better prepare for disaster responses, DOE held Phase 2 of the Liberty Eclipse Exercise on Plum Island in New York. For a week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency tested and evaluated technologies designed to improve “black start” power grid recovery from a cyberattack in an isolated, controlled environment with first responders and power engineers on hand.

ECONOMIC IMPACT AND DIVERSITY (ED)

Minority Business Industry Day

Background: On August 20, 2018, ED hosted the Department’s first Minority Business Industry Day.  Attendees from minority business and academic communities gathered to network with entrepreneurs and DOE senior leadership, procurement officials, and small business program managers to encourage business relations with the Department. 

ELECTRICITY (OE)

Critical Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII) Rule

  • OE proposed a CEII Rule, which would allow DOE to designate submitted electric infrastructure information as critical, safeguarding the security of this information from bad actors.

Defense Critical Electrical Infrastructure (DCEI)

  • OE completed Phase 1 of its DCEI pre-feasibility study which identifies potential critical pathways from generation to load for defense critical facilities as designated by the Department of Defense. The model also provides a power flow analysis and a rough cost analysis for any necessary modifications to existing electrical infrastructure. 

Energy Resilience Solutions for the Puerto Rico Grid

  • OE released the Energy Resilience Solutions for the Puerto Rico Grid report which contains resilience recommendations for the Government of Puerto Rico to consider for incorporation into its recovery plans.  These recommendations address near-term actions and identify areas where further analysis is needed to make more technically-informed investment decisions.

U.S. Transmission Data Review

  • OE released its annual U.S. Transmission Data Review, a compilation of transmission-related data focused on transmission infrastructure, reliability, use, constraints, planning, and economic congestion.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY (EERE)

Regulatory Reform

Background: Regulatory reform is a priority for the President and the Secretary. In FY 2018, DOE regulatory reforms focusing on energy conservation standards saved over $300 million for the American people.

Grid Integration of Renewables

Background: In October, DOE announced up to $46 million in new funding for new technologies that increase the resiliency of solar generated electricity.

Expanding the Renewables Workforce

Background: In October, DOE announced up to $53 million in new projects to advance early-stage solar technologies; aims include lowered electricity costs and workforce expansion, including training programs for veterans and transitioning military personnel.

Water Security Grand Challenge (WSGC)

Background: Secretary Perry announced the launch of the WSGC, a White House-initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technologies to meet the global need for clean, abundant and affordable water.

Sustainability in Manufacturing Partnership

Background: In April, DOE and the National Association of Manufacturers announced the Sustainability in Manufacturing Partnership to help drive manufacturing productivity improvements resulting in partners saving over $2.3 billion in energy costs since last year.

ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION (EIA)

Natural Gas Storage Dashboard Launch

Background: In September, EIA launched the Natural Gas Storage Dashboard, an interactive tool that provides context to EIA’s Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, a Principal Federal Economic Indicator.

EIA Energy Disruptions Map

Background: EIA used tools such as its Energy Disruptions Map and U.S. Electric System Operating Data tool to provide information on Hurricane Florence and Michael’s disruptions to the energy system, and other resulting impacts.

Updates to EIA Reports:  

Background: In 2018, EIA updated some of its most utilized reports with significant new statistics and analysis.

  • EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2018 focused on how different macroeconomic conditions and economic growth rates might affect international energy markets in three key regions of the world: China, India, and Africa.
  • EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018 includes an improved set of models and a broad set of alternative policy scenarios.
  • The Petroleum Supply Monthly was expanded to include U.S. petroleum export data by region of origin and country of destination.
  • The Annual Coal Report includes a new Executive Summary and new and modified tables on key trends in coal production, productivity, and prices.
  • EIA also updated several layers of its U.S. Energy Mapping System, an interactive, comprehensive visual reference for energy infrastructure in the U.S.

ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH, SAFETY AND SECURITY (AU)

Environment, Health and Safety

Background:  In FY 18, AU collaborated with the Department of Defense to transfer laboratory audit and accreditation from DOE to third-party entities, vastly expanding the labs’ capacity to conduct core research and reducing costs by 50 percent.

Security

Background:  AU developed Security Risk Assessment (RA) Matrix software for non-nuclear DOE facilities to support the implementation of the Design Basis Threat. The new vulnerability assessment tool is currently being used by the Power Marketing Administrations and DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) to help protect the national electric critical infrastructure. 

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT (EM)

Cleanup Progress

Background: Over the past year, DOE has made significant progress across its enterprise in the treatment and disposal of nuclear waste.

            Hanford

  • DOE initiated transferring highly radioactive sludge from a facility near the Columbia River to a safer location inland, thereby reducing potential threat to the river and saving DOE $23 million in annual operating costs.
  • DOE successfully tested key processes for the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste system being constructed to turn radioactive tank waste into glass.

Oak Ridge

  • Demolition of the Toxic Substances Control Act incinerator and its 100-foot stack, one of a number of structures taken down in Oak Ridge in 2018 as the site approaches its goal to complete major cleanup of the East Tennessee Technology Park in 2020.

Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

  • Transferred 80 acres from DOE ownership to the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative for reindustrialization relieving the government of continued maintenance costs.

Savannah River

  • Successfully completed the consolidation of more than 400,000 cubic yards of coal ash and ash-contaminated soil from the D Area Powerhouse ash basin 14 months ahead of schedule, saving $9 million.
  • The site achieved success in gaining approval to start up one new 32-million gallon Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU) and breaking ground on the next. Secretary Perry participated in the ground-breaking event. These SDUs are used to dispose of treated tank waste.
  • In a significant risk reduction action, plutonium-contaminated equipment once used to power deep space missions were removed from the 235-F Building. 

West Valley Demonstration Project

  • Safe demolition of the 50-foot tall, 10,000 square foot Vitrification Facility was completed, representing the largest and most complex cleanup achievement at the site to date. The facility was used to solidify 600,000 gallons of high-level liquid radioactive waste from 1996 to 2002.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

  • Groundbreaking was held for a new ventilation system to significantly improve airflow for workers in the disposal facility located deep underground.

FOSSIL ENERGY (FE)

Energy Dominance

Background: In 2018, the United States became the world’s top producer of crude oil and natural gas. In addition, U.S. natural gas exports in the first half of 2018 were more than double the 2017 average – rising 58% compared with the same period in 2017 and averaging 2.72 Bcf/d.

  • In June 2018, DOE/FE released its fifth study that examines the macroeconomic impacts of LNG exports, which found that increased exports of natural gas will improve the U.S. balance of trade and result in a wealth transfer into the U.S.
  • In February 2018, the second large-scale LNG export project in the lower-48, Dominion’s Cove Point, came online.
  • DOE also issued several short-term orders for LNG exports from four export projects, Sabine Pass, Elba Island, Corpus Christi, and Freeport
  • NETL released the first-ever inventory database for global oil and natural gas infrastructure.

Appalachian Storage and Distribution Hub

Background: The Department of Energy released a report highlighting the potential benefits of establishing an ethane storage and distribution hub in the Appalachian Region, based on low-cost resources from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.

Small-Scale LNG Rule

Background: The Department of Energy finalized a rule to expedite approval for small-scale natural gas exports. For applications meeting this criteria, exports will be deemed to be in the public interest. This deregulatory measure expedites the review and approval of applications to export small amounts of natural gas in the emerging small-scale LNG export market.

Coal FIRST

  • FE launched the Coal FIRST program to fund research for coal plants of the future that are Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, and Transformative.
    • In other clean coal news, Petra Nova hit a new milestone and has captured over 2 million tons of CO2.

HUMAN CAPITAL (HC)

Human Resources Service Delivery

Background: Consistent with the President’s plan to reform and reorganize the Federal Government, the Department continued to merge DOE’s Human Resources Shared Service Centers, consolidating the Management and Performance and Science and Energy HR Shared Service Centers to form the Oak Ridge HR Shared Service Centers; consolidate human capital functions across the DOE enterprise; and merge DOE training and development functions. This effort streamlines processes, reduces costs, and improves services.

Strategic Human Capital Planning

Background: HC led DOE’s efforts to execute a strategically managed hiring process, and adopted the new Human Capital Framework as strategic criteria for internal audits and evaluations of human capital programs and processes. 

Talent Management

  • Led the implementation of a new Learning Management System (LMS) to better meet the development needs of the DOE workforce; streamlining training operations while improving the user experience.

Employee Engagement

Background: DOE increased the Employee Engagement Index to 71.6% positive in 2018 and achieved the largest Employee Engagement Index and largest Global Satisfaction Index increase among all large agencies.

Engaging Veterans and their Families

Background: Following the May 9, 2018 issuance of Executive Order 13832 on Enhancing Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments of Military Spouses, the Department of Energy has advertised over 400 Noncompetitive Civil Service Appointments opportunities for Military Spouses.

Supporting the STEM Workforce

Background: DOE established STEM Rising as an initiative to coordinate a platform to showcase the agency’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources and programs to encourage and develop the next generation of energy workers. New in 2018, STEM Rising developed a comprehensive website, newsletter, classroom materials, and more.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (IA)

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Signed

Background: The USMCA was signed on November 30 by the leaders of the three countries. Intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, USMCA contains important provisions that support North American energy security, promote trilateral energy trade and investment, and enhance opportunities for U.S. companies across the continent. International Affairs represented the Department at USMCA negotiating sessions and ensured that the interest of the Department and U.S. energy security were fully incorporated in the Agreement.

Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation (P-TEC)

Background.  On September 18, 2018, Secretary Perry announced the launch of a new engagement framework called the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation at the Three Seas Summit in Bucharest, Romania. 

  • P-TEC aims to catalyze direct U.S. support for policymakers and stakeholders in Central and Eastern Europe so the capacity exists for each country to chart their own energy futures.
  • P-TEC will open markets and remove barriers to energy development and trade, and promote economic and energy security of our transatlantic allies and partners.

Strengthened U.S. Energy Relationships with Key Middle Eastern countries

Background: Secretary Perry reinvigorated U.S. energy partnerships with key Middle Eastern countries over the past year, including Iraq, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. These efforts culminated in Secretary Perry’s trip to all three countries in December 2018.

  • Secretary Perry’s trip to Iraq marked the first visit by a senior Department of Energy official since the defeat of ISIS, and focused on opportunities for the Government of Iraq to repair its energy infrastructure and increase oil exports, including through closer cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government, to ultimately achieve energy independence and eliminate the malign influence of Iran.
  • In the midst of a major political dispute among key Middle Eastern allies, DOE’s engagement with Qatar throughout 2018 reaffirmed the U.S.-Qatar energy relationship, positioned U.S. companies for investment opportunities in Qatar, and sparked increased investment by Qatar Petroleum in the U.S.

Launch of the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership

Background: Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes led the Department’s efforts to launch the US-India Strategic Energy Partnership to enhance energy security, expand energy and innovation linkages, bolster our strategic alignment, and facilitate increased industry and stakeholder engagement in the energy sector.

LEGACY MANAGEMENT (LM)

U.S. Army Corps MOU

Background: In June, LM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow LM to supplement support services by utilizing interagency agreements with the Corps.

Defense-Related Uranium Mines Annual Report

Background: In August, LM released its Defense-Related Uranium Mines FY 2017 Annual Report, highlighting the implementation of field inventory and environmental sampling projects at defense-related uranium mines in Colorado and Utah.

LOAN PROGRAMS (LPO)

Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program

  • LPO launched the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program and released its first solicitation in July 2018.
  • LPO has continued to work closely with the owners of Vogtle Units 3 & 4 as they move forward with the only new nuclear construction project in the United States.
  • The Vogtle Project is the largest jobs-producing construction project in Georgia, employing more than 7,000 workers from across the country, with more than 800 permanent jobs available once the units begin operating.
  • LPO has guaranteed $8.3 billion in loans to the Vogtle owners and has conditionally committed to guarantee up to $3.7 billion in additional loans.

NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (NNSA)

Strengthened America through Nuclear Security

Background: NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty announced the completion of a major milestone in modernizing America’s nuclear deterrent, finishing production of the W76-1, a replacement warhead that extends the life of the W76-0 submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead to 60 years. 

Rebuilding America’s Nuclear Security Infrastructure

Background: DOE also made significant progress in 2018 in rebuilding America’s

nuclear security infrastructure.   DOE began constructing the primary buildings replacing 70 year old uranium production facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  DOE also identified the recommended alternative for rebuilding America’s plutonium pit production capability by 2030.

Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism

  • NNSA removed or confirmed disposition of more than 280 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from four countries – enough material for more than 11 nuclear weapons. 

Keeping Americans Safe

            Background: NNSA’s counterterrorism expertise was called upon for special security events like the Super Bowl, Boston Marathon, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the

            lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and the G20 Buenos Aires Summit.

Moly-99

  • NNSA’s partnership with the U.S. healthcare industry resulted in the first domestic production of molybdenum-99 (Moly-99) in 30 years. Moly-99 is a vital medical radioisotope used in approximately 40,000 patient procedures daily in the U.S.

Mars Mission Nuclear Experiment

  • In a joint venture with NASA, NNSA completed final design, fabrication, and full-power testing of a nuclear criticality experiment that can be used for a manned lunar or Mars space mission.

Funding to Maintain the Stockpile

  • Over $65 million in grants were awarded to U.S. academic institutions to support fundamental research relevant to NNSA’s stockpile stewardship mission.

NUCLEAR ENERGY (NE)

Resumption of Transient Testing Program

Background: After 20 years, NE resumed testing at the Transient Reactor Test Facility at INL. The facility is one year ahead of schedule, and nearly $20 million under budget. It revives U.S. capability to test nuclear materials under off-normal conditions.

Commercialization of Domestic Nuclear Technologies

Background: NE established cost-shared private-public partnerships with U.S. companies for multiple domestic advanced nuclear technology projects, including a five-year FOA totaling approximately $98 million.

  • At the same time, a partnership with NuScale continues assuring advanced Small Modular Reactor design can be completed and made available for deployment in the mid-2020s.

Support of STEM Education

Background: NE awarded more than $56 million through the Nuclear Energy University Program, the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program, and the Nuclear Science User Facilities program, which supports 63 U.S. university-led nuclear energy R&D projects and includes funding for university research reactor and infrastructure improvements.

  • NE has also co-hosted ‘Millennial Nuclear Caucuses’ around the country and abroad that bring young professionals and students interested in nuclear energy together with leading experts and policymakers in the field.

International Partnership for Nuclear Innovation

Background: In May, Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette launched the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (N.I.C.E. Future) initiative at the 9th Clean Energy Ministerial. The initiative focuses on nuclear as the baseload source for clean energy systems and highlights nuclear innovation.  N.I.C.E. Future is led jointly by the United States, Canada and Japan, and highlights the potential of nuclear energy globally.  Nine countries and several NGOs are now formally in support of the N.I.C.E. Future Initiative.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSITIONS (OTT)

Lab Partnering Service

Background: In July, OTT launched the Lab Partnering Service an online, single point of access for industry to harness relevant information and connect to experts at the National Labs.

Technology Commercialization Fund

Background: In August, OTT announced that the Technology Commercialization Fund would provide over $20 million in funding for 64 projects to advance promising commercial energy technologies into the marketplace.

First Innovation XLab Summit

Background: In September, Under Secretary for Science Dabbar hosted DOE’s first Innovation XLab Initiative Summit at SLAC which was focused on battery storage.

Tech Transfer Reforms

Background: In November, two new regulatory technology transfer reforms were approved.

  • The Laboratory Agreement Processing Reform, streamlines the ability of national laboratory contractors to enter into certain lab partnering agreements within a DOE-approved portfolio of routine work.

The Liability Reform, provides more flexibility for laboratories to address indemnity requirements, easing the ability to partner with the national laboratories by tailoring associated risk to the specific circumstances.  

SCIENCE (SC)

Supercomputing

  • In 2018, DOE reaffirmed U.S. preeminence in high performance computing (HPC). The Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) topped the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest, with Sierra at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ranked as number two. 
  • Two teams of DOE-supported researchers shared the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize for the world’s most outstanding HPC application, cementing the U.S. lead in supercomputing hardware, software, and applications. 

Advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI), Exascale and Quantum Computing

Background: The President and Secretary Perry are determined to keep us ahead in quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and related technologies. DOE has committed to building three new exascale machines, and it is already developing cutting-edge AI and ML applications for those machines, even as its existing supercomputers are the most AI-capable machines in the world.

Advancing AI and HPC to Improve Veterans Health

Background: The Departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs established a partnership to leverage next-generation AI and supercomputing technologies to improve health outcomes for veterans. Priority areas include suicide prevention, opioid abuse and traumatic brain injury.

Energy Frontier Research Centers

Background: In June, DOE announced $100 million in annual funding to support 42 Energy Frontier Research Centers in diverse energy-relevant fields including catalysis, electro- and photo-chemistry, geoscience, quantum materials, and nuclear and synthesis science.

Environmental and Earth System Modeling

  • In April, the first version of the Energy-Exascale-Earth System Model (E3SM) was publicly released. Designed to run on DOE’s fastest supercomputers, E3SM is currently the world’s highest resolution Earth system model. 

Establishment of LaserNetUS

Background: DOE established LaserNetUS, a U.S.-wide network of nine mid-scale laser

facilities at universities and national laboratories to expand user access to high-power lasers for experiments in high energy density plasmas.

Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

  • International partnerships continue to grow for the Fermilab-hosted Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, which has already gathered scientists from more than 175 institutions from 30 countries.

DOE Isotope Program

  • Recent trials in cancer treatment have had success in treating metastasized late-stage prostate cancer with the use of the alpha-emitting isotope Actinium-225 (Ac-225). The DOE Isotope Program formed a Tri-Laboratory Collaboration of scientists at Brookhaven, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge to develop large-scale production capacity of Ac-225, ensuring sufficient supply and help to enable the promising uses of this isotope.