Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $10 million in funding for six projects to drive adoption of clean energy technologies that are critical for climate protection. Large energy users, including manufacturers, can improve energy efficiency, manage emissions, and bolster competitiveness by deploying renewably supplied district energy systems and integrating smart manufacturing technologies into energy management practices. Efficiency improvements in manufacturing not only benefit the industrial sector but also reduce the lifecycle carbon intensity of products used throughout the economy.

“District energy systems are ideal for efficiently sharing heat and energy resources throughout a campus environment,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Together with our support for smart-manufacturing technical assistance, the projects funded through these awards will help American manufacturers optimize their energy and material use.”

Topic 1: Development and Demonstration of Renewably Supplied District Energy Systems

District energy systems provide multiple buildings with heating and/or cooling from a central plant. These systems increase efficiency and reduce emissions compared to individual building systems. They also provide a reliable and resilient source of thermal energy that is particularly useful for large energy users such as manufacturing facilities, healthcare campuses, and military bases. However, district energy systems are traditionally fossil fuel-based. District energy systems also can incorporate energy efficient flexible combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which are capable of providing support to the electricity grid on demand. (Learn more about CHP and district energy systems)

The three selected projects will design, construct, and demonstrate advanced district energy systems that can use low carbon fuels or renewable energy sources in combination with flexible combined heat and power and energy storage systems.

These awardees and projects are:

  • GE Research (Niskayuna, NY) – Multi-Port Converter Interface for Streamlined Distributed Energy Resources Integration in District Energy Systems
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO) – Decarbonized District Energy System with Renewably Fueled Combined Heat, Power, and Cooling
  • Cordova Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Cordova, AK) – Resilient District Heating for Sustainable Energy Adoption in Cordova Community Emergency Center (REDSEA)

Topic 2: Regional Pilot Initiative to Accelerate the Integration of Smart Manufacturing and Energy Management Systems

Structured energy management systems, such as those aligned with the global International Organization on Standardization (ISO) 50001 standard, are proven to yield deep and sustained energy savings for manufacturers. Smart technologies, including advanced sensors, controls, software platforms, and data analytics, allow manufacturers to further optimize their use of energy and materials. Incorporating smart technologies into energy management systems can yield deeper savings and boost competitiveness.

Topic 2 will establish new regional initiatives to provide smart manufacturing and energy management system technical assistance to existing state, local, and utility-sector industrial energy efficiency and strategic energy management (SEM) programs.

AMO selected three awardees to each establish these regional, two-year pilot initiatives:

  • Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (Chicago, IL) – Midwest Industrial Energy Training Network
  • University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN) – East Tennessee for Smart Energy Management (ETISE)
  • Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (Atlanta, GA) – Southeast Energy Efficiency Manufacturing Collaborative

Each initiative will focus on new technical assistance services to help manufacturers integrate the latest smart manufacturing technologies into existing energy management systems and adopt state-of-the-art systematic energy management practices.  They will also scale their impacts by increasing and enhancing the capabilities of existing programs across the industrial sector with activities that may include:

  • Education, workforce training, and workshops on smart manufacturing technologies and energy management systems
  • Training for instructors and staff of existing state, local, and utility-sector industrial efficiency and strategic energy management programs to expand the scope of their services
  • Expert speakers for existing programs’ energy efficiency events

Each program will tailor its structure and services to its specific regional industrial base and existing state and local programs to create flexibility, provide opportunities for sharing best practices, and maximize effectiveness.

Learn more about the selected projects.

Funding for these opportunities is provided by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, which catalyzes research, development and adoption of energy-related advanced manufacturing technologies and practices to drive U.S. economic competitiveness and an equitable transition to a decarbonized economy by 2050.