Throughout 2021, you’ve undoubtedly heard about our clean energy future from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). And as we mark the second year of a global pandemic and continue to confront the climate crisis, our clean energy future – a prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy – might appear beyond reach. The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) knows this future is possible and we’re committed to creating it right here in America. From making the products we rely on every day sustainably and with fewer emissions to manufacturing clean energy technologies like wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries, our clean energy future is made on the shop floor – one transformational idea at a time.
That’s why in 2021, AMO invested more than $332 million in industrial technical assistance, education and workforce development programs, and research and development at every stage of the supply chain. Alongside our partners from industry, academia, and the U.S. National Laboratories, AMO worked to decarbonize the industrial sector and manufacture clean energy technologies that will reduce emissions across the economy.
As we embark on a new year of manufacturing innovation, here are some of our major accomplishments in 2021:
Decarbonizing the U.S. Industrial Sector
AMO brought stakeholders into shared spaces to find innovative solutions to today’s most pressing manufacturing challenges and decarbonize the industrial sector.
- Through its Clean Energy Manufacturing Institutes and Hubs, AMO brought together manufacturers, small businesses, universities, U.S. National Laboratories, and state and local governments to address high-priority areas essential to energy in manufacturing – from the adoption of smart manufacturing to making manufacturing more cybersecure. AMO also announced its plans to invest $70 million in the creation of a seventh Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute focused entirely on decarbonizing the industrial sector.
- AMO hosted a series of roundtables with the chemicals, iron/steel, and concrete/cement industries to identify key technology pathways for industrial decarbonization. These collaborative roundtables will inform AMO’s future industrial decarbonization priorities and help AMO understand how America’s manufacturing sector can reduce emissions while making technologies that will power the clean economy.
- Through a $27.5 million funding opportunity and a $1 million Water Resource Recovery Prize, AMO worked to decarbonize U.S. water infrastructure. These investments will accelerate the technologies needed to reduce carbon emissions and water-treatment costs while improving water quality and equity of distribution nationwide.
Manufacturing Breakthrough Clean Energy Technologies
Through applied research and development (R&D) projects, AMO accelerated high-impact manufacturing technologies to decarbonize the economy and position the U.S. for global leadership in manufacturing.
- AMO announced a $42.3 million funding opportunity to support manufacturing process innovation, advanced materials, and energy storage systems, including manufacturing of lithium ion batteries to support electric vehicles.
- AMO invested $17.9 million in four research and development projects working to scale up American manufacturing of flow battery and long-duration storage systems to expand the grid with new clean energy sources. This investment is part of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge and will be critical to achieving the department-wide Long Duration Storage Shot goal of reducing the cost of grid-scale energy storage by 90% within the decade.
- AMO launched the $4.5 million Conductivity-enhanced materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric applications (CABLE) Conductor Manufacturing Prize to support the commercialization of affordable, manufacturable materials that will conduct electricity more efficiently than today’s best conductors. Conductivity-enhanced materials will help electrify energy-intensive sectors – powering our grid, electric cars, and industrial processes with clean energy.
Securing America’s Supply Chains and Manufacturing Sustainable Materials
AMO continued to secure and diversify our nation’s supply chains and develop innovative ways to manufacture sustainable materials and products.
- AMO invested more than $50 million in 15 projects focused on field validation and demonstration, as well as next-generation extraction, separation, and processing technologies, for critical materials. Critical materials – such as rare-earth elements used to manufacture high-strength magnets for offshore wind-turbine generators and lithium and cobalt in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles – are essential to our clean energy future. AMO advanced the technologies we need to develop these materials domestically and power the clean economy.
- In collaboration with the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), AMO launched a $14.5 million funding opportunity to make plastic materials more recyclable, combat plastics waste, and decarbonize the plastics industry. This funding opportunity builds on DOE investments, including the Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE) Consortium and AMO’s REMADE Institute.
Supporting the Manufacturers of Today and Building the Workforce of Tomorrow
Through targeted outreach and programming, AMO is cultivating a motivated, diverse, multi-generational manufacturing workforce of the future. AMO helped to equip current and future American manufacturers with the skills they need to advance their careers, boost domestic energy productivity, and decarbonize their own operations.
- AMO announced a $60 million investment in the largest-ever cohort of university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). This cohort of 32 IACs located across 28 states will help manufacturers reduce their carbon emissions and lower energy costs, while training the clean energy workforce of the future. IACs conducted more than 400 assessments and made more than 2,600 recommendations that identified nearly $60.2 million in potential cost savings for manufacturers.
- Through the Better Plants program, AMO helped American manufacturers increase their competitiveness while operating more efficiently and with fewer emissions. More than 250 manufacturers and water utilities have joined Better Plants to develop, implement, and share cutting-edge technologies and practices that reduce emissions across the industrial sector. AMO’s Better Plants partners have saved a cumulative $9.3 billion in energy costs and kept 116 million metric tons of CO2 out of the air. DOE also launched the Better Climate Challenge to inspire organizations to set ambitious, portfolio-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. DOE will support these efforts with technical assistance and peer-to-peer learning.
- AMO also hosted a series of workshops in 2021 to identify workforce challenges across the manufacturing sector. These workshops will inform the development of AMO’s education and workforce development roadmap.
Moving Big Ideas from the Lab to the Factory Floor
In 2021, AMO announced several initiatives designed to catalyze the adoption of next-generation manufacturing technologies that will reduce carbon emissions across the industrial sector.
- AMO launched the latest expansion of its Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program to commercialize clean energy technologies. Hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), West Gate will join three existing program sites to equip scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs with the training, technical resources, and mentorship they need to develop technologies that will pave the way to a zero-carbon economy. Since the program's inception in 2015, AMO has awarded more than $48 million to over 115 innovators running 93 start-ups. Program participants have attracted over $520 million in additional federal and private funding.
- AMO also selected five private-sector partners to conduct field validation testing of clean, efficient technologies in real-world industrial environments. These Industrial Technology Validation (ITV) projects will accelerate the adoption of cost-effective, emerging technologies that will help decarbonize the industrial sector.
Reflecting on what we’ve accomplished with our partners in 2021 brings our clean energy future into sharper focus. Our work this past year laid the groundwork for a dramatic increase in industrial decarbonization R&D and demonstration projects, workforce development and technical assistance, and clean energy technologies innovation. With the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, AMO will ramp up our work and investments in 2022 at an unprecedented pace. In the coming year, we look forward to releasing a roadmap identifying industrial decarbonization priorities across DOE, launching a new industrial decarbonization advisory committee, and continuing to work with our partners to make our clean energy future together.