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A message from the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy (FE)

Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg

This year tested the limits of what we could achieve! We were stretched beyond what we ever imagined possible, but we proved our resilience and determination. I am proud of all that you have accomplished, given the challenges we faced this year.

We worked together to fulfill our mission: to ensure our Nation’s access to safe, secure, reliable, and affordable fossil energy as well as to our strategic petroleum reserves.

We remained focused on developing advanced fossil energy technologies that ensure American energy dominance, create jobs, and enhance the Nation’s economy.

As Acting Under Secretary of Energy and Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, it is my pleasure to share the Fossil Energy 2020 accomplishments that have helped power and strengthen our Nation this year.

Steven Winberg

2020 Highlights

Record High LNG Exports Keep U.S. A Global Leader

  • In 2020, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) exports from the U.S. reached new all-time highs and will reduce our trade deficit by as much as $12 billion. The U.S. ranks among the top three LNG exporters in the world.
  • We finalized a policy statement in July 2020 to allow LNG export authorizations to be extended through December 31, 2050 on an opt-in basis. With this policy, DOE is seeking to assure the long-term success of U.S. LNG exporters and provide them with additional regulatory certainty.

Oil and Natural Gas Research

  • In 2020, we completed the Crude Oil Characteristics Research Study, and delivered it to Congress. The study concluded that unconventional oil, such as the Bakken crude, is not more hazardous than conventional oils, and that no new rail transport regulations were needed.

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) Research Advances

  • We’re funding more than 100 R&D projects to address the technical challenges to CCUS commercialization.
  • We awarded approximately $176 million this year to support the development and advancement of CCUS technologies.

Coal For The 21st Century Programs Move Forward

  • We established the Division of Minerals Sustainability to help secure a U.S. minerals supply chain to support the power industry, the U.S. manufacturing base, and our National defense.
  • We announced $122 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under the Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) Initiative for U.S. Basins.
  • We continued developing the coal-fired power plant of the future, to achieve zero- or even net-negative CO2 emissions using biomass, and we invested $116 million in net-zero carbon electricity and hydrogen plants.
  • We researched how coal can be transformed into new building materials with superior strength and distinctive properties.

NETL Research Tackles Challenges

  • NETL is the National Science and Technology Laboratory for cutting-edge fossil energy research. This year, the lab:
    • Received a 2020 R&D100 Award for developing a game-changing process that converts feedstocks of domestic coal into graphene, used to build stronger roads and bridges and manufacture various high-tech products. This award is given to the 100 most technologically significant innovations introduced into the marketplace in the past year.
    • Made several advances in extracting rare earth elements (REEs), including a collaboration that developed flexible REE extraction methods from low-rank coal ash.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) Proves It’s Mission-Ready

  • The SPR executed DOE’s first Exchange for Storage Program, storing roughly 18.3 million barrels of crude oil, beginning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Exchange for Storage Program was used to partially alleviate the crude oil storage shortfall by providing available cavern space to small and mid-sized U.S. oil producers. By industry estimates, the Exchange for Storage Program was the equivalent of bring two mic-size refineries on line at a time when producers had limited market options for their production.
  • We also signed an agreement with the Government of Australia to store 1.5 million barrels of crude oil at the SPR, to help Australia fulfill its IEA member requirement to hold oil in reserve for emergencies that disrupt global oil markets.

Hydrogen Research Advances, To Enable A Low-Carbon Economy

  • We continued research on carbon-neutral and even carbon-negative hydrogen production using gasification and reforming technologies, large-scale hydrogen transport infrastructure, large-scale onsite and geological hydrogen storage, and hydrogen use for electricity generation, fuels, and manufacturing. DOE released a detailed report, Hydrogen Strategy Enabling A Low-Carbon Economy.
  • We announced up to $2 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects to enable gasification of blended coal, biomass, and plastic wastes, to produce hydrogen with potential for net-negative carbon dioxide emissions.

This is just a snapshot of FE’s many accomplishments over the last year. Continue to check out FE's website and sign up for FE news alerts to keep up to date with FOAs, selections, new studies, blogs, infographics, and more. Additionally, access the recently released Fossil Energy Roadmap.