On July 19, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of six projects that would receive $10 million in funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) through the Technical Partnerships Funding Opportunity. The Opportunity supports funding for renewably supplied district energy systems and the development of regional smart manufacturing pilot initiatives.

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.

Selected projects will design, construct, and demonstrate advanced district energy systems that:

  • Offer fuel-flexibility and incorporate flexible combined heat and power, energy storage, or renewable sources such as biomass, geothermal, solar PV, solar thermal, and wind; or,
  • Convert existing fossil-fueled heating equipment or CHP systems in district energy systems to renewable fuels 

Topic 1 Selected Projects:

  • GE Research (Niskayuna, NY) – Multi-Port Converter Interface for Streamlined Distributed Energy Resources Integration in District Energy Systems
    • Budget: $3,506,967 Federal Share / $1,737,755 Cost Share (33.1%)
    • Description: GE Research will develop, build and demonstrate a multi-port converter interface for the aggregation of distributed energy resources (DER) in district energy (DE) applications. The project includes a MW-scale medium voltage converter aggregating combined heat and power system (CHP), solar PV, and a battery energy system (BESS). The team will develop and deploy a microgrid controller hosting key control functions of an advanced DE system including load and resources forecasting; economic dispatch, black-start, and adaptative protection for performance validation.
    • Partners: GE Power Conversion (GEPC), Tok School (Tok), and Clarkson University (CU)
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO) – Decarbonized District Energy System with Renewably Fueled Combined Heat, Power, and Cooling
    • Budget: $2,193,685 Federal Share / $735,517 Cost Share (25.1%)
    • Description: The Colorado State University will perform a field demonstration of an integrated CHP unit in a district energy system that integrates renewable energy sources from the university. The proposed district energy system will leverage technological developments from project partner 2G Energy on flexibly fueled CHP systems and a high efficiency, low-cost heat activated chiller developed at CSU to ensure that green hydrogen energy is maximally utilized. This system can provide necessary energy services in conjunction with onsite solar generation and support the electric grid.
    • Partners: 2G Energy, Propane Education & Research Council (PERC)
  • Cordova Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Cordova, AK) – Resilient District Heating for Sustainable Energy Adoption in Cordova Community Emergency Center (REDSEA)
    • Budget: $2,997,700 Federal Share / $1,464,616 Cost Share (32.8%)
    • Description: The Cordova Electric Cooperative, Inc, will harness a range of energy resources through multiple avenues to achieve decarbonization through community heating and electricity generation that is powered by clean, local resources. The team proposed a unique district heating design that is coupled to and powered by the locally available sources – REDSEA or REsilient District heating for Sustainable Energy Adoption in Cordova Community Emergency Center. REDSEA uses a multi-faceted approach to integrate the diverse technologies that will be a part of the project, including thermal, power, mechanical, hydro, control, and renewable systems.
    • Partners: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Clemson University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, TECO Westinghouse Motor Company, Native Village of Eyak

Topic 2: Pilot Program 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.

Selected projects will establish a regional, two-year pilot initiative that 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.

The new regional initiatives will scale their impacts by increasing and enhancing the capabilities of existing programs across the industrial sector. Activities 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 regional initiative will tailor its structure and services to the regional industrial base and existing state and local programs to create flexibility, provide opportunities for sharing best practices, and maximize effectiveness.

Topic 2 Selected Projects:

  • Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (Chicago, IL) – Midwest Industrial Energy Training Network
    • Budget: $499,724 Federal Share
    • Description: The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance will develop a Network pilot to expand implementation of energy management systems and smart manufacturing technologies and prepare a diverse workforce to revitalize manufacturing facilities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan. The Network will promote strategic energy management principles and tools across the region, create topical training and technical assistance modules, increase knowledge and participation in manufacturing facilities by energy efficiency program administrators, and increase workforce access to underrepresented persons and trainings to underserved and under-resourced communities.
    • Partners: APTIM, University of Illinois-Chicago Energy Resource Center (UIC ERC), Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis Industrial Assessment Center (IUPUI IAC), University of Louisville IAC, Michigan State University IAC
  • University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN) – East Tennessee for Smart Energy Management (ETISE)
    • Budget: $396,813 Federal Share
    • Description: The University of Tennessee will create a regional model for technical assistance and workforce training to effectively integrate smart manufacturing in energy management systems into energy-related business practices. The resulting regional model based on East Tennessee could be applied to other regions to reduce manufacturing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
    • Partners: UT Center for Industrial Services, Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (Atlanta, GA) – Southeast Energy Efficiency Manufacturing Collaborative
    • Budget: $500,000 Federal Share
    • Description: The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance will identify and build a network of stakeholders who can benefit from increased integration of smart manufacturing technologies with energy management systems (EnMS) and energy management information system (EMIS) practices. The project will educate stakeholders on the merits and opportunities to integrate smart manufacturing technologies along with EnMS and EMIS practices. The project will also assess the effectiveness of the pilot with recommendations for enhancement and scaling, including an option to test and certify participants to indicate a mastery of concepts presented in the training and assistance.
    • Partners: Georgia Institute of Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership, North Carolina Advanced Energy Corporation, Association of Energy Engineers, 50001 Strategies. LLC, Clemson University Center for Advanced Manufacturing, CESMII The Smart Manufacturing Institute