Tackling the Pentagon: Department of Defense Financing for Renewable Energy Projects

There is one branch of the federal government that has pledged to “go its own way,” despite threats from the Trump Administration to cut back or eliminate federal programs that provide grants, loans, and other incentives to assist companies with new or improved renewable energy orenergy-efficient technologies and systems.

The U.S. Department of Defense Grants is the single largest fuel consumer in the world, which accounts for more than 90 percent of all U.S. government fuel consumption. The DoD sees renewable energy as a matter of national security and has pledged to improve the military’s “energy security” by 2020 by making its bases and forward military units independent of outside sources of energy and, thus, no longer vulnerable to supply interruptions, and by minimizing petroleum use across all branches of the military by up to 50 percent.

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The DoD also has pledged to increase its use of alternative or renewable energy sources for all of the power and fuel it consumes by 50 percent. As part of its campaign to make this aim a reality, DoD awards grants to finance research and development for renewable energy projects in cooperation with US Department Of Agriculture Loans. As of late February, DoD offered more than 50 such funding opportunities.

Because of DoD’ssize and complexity, many companies find it advisable to use an experienced consulting firm  to help identify defense-related renewable energy grants, provide expert advice on how to apply, and prepare applications and other required documentation. This kind of expertise can be crucial to the success of your firm’s efforts. For more informationon applying for DoD financing for your project, contact: Craig Evans, Managing Director, Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Tel: 434-303-0800, Email: craig@renewable-energy.consulting, or visit the RECS website at www.renewable-energy.consulting.

Comparison Between USDA & DOE Loan Guarantees for First-Of-A-Kind Technologies

Here’s how the U.S. Department of Agriculture Loan (USDA’s) Section 9003 Guarantee and U.S. Department of Energy’s Title XVII DOE Loan Guarantee compare with each other:

 Similarities

  • Both programs are designed specifically for commercializing first-of-a-kind technologies.
  • These types of projects are almost impossible to fund through traditional sources of financing, since they are unproven at commercial scale andcarry considerable risk.
  • That’s why these programs were established – to provide a bridge over the “valley of death” for promising technologies that have been proven in prototype, at pilot scale, or in other countries, but have not been used commercially in the U.S. and, hence, cannot attract the funding necessary to be built.

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Differences

USDA Section 9003 Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program:

  • There is no cost to apply.
  • Maximum loan is $250 million.
  • Loans are arranged through commercial lenders who submit the application to USDA.
  • Loans are awarded only to first-of-a-kind technologies and facilities.
  • Applications are limited to projects located in rural areas (areas with populations of 50,000 or less).
  • Loans are limited to three areas of focus: biofuels, renewable chemicals and bioproduct manufacturing. In all cases, a certain amount of biofuel must be produced.
  • The program is funded through authorizations from Congress that are negotiated every five years through Section 9003 of the Farm Bill.
  • USDA has two submission dates each year: April 1 and October 1 with letters of intent due March 1 and September 1.

DOE Title XVII Innovative Clean Energy Loan Guarantee Program

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  • Cost of applying is high.
  • DOE has $40 billion in funding authorityand can finance projects in the billions of dollars.
  • No additional Congressional appropriations or authorizations are required to fund the program.
  • The program financesrenewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced nuclear energy and advanced fossil energy projects.
  • DOE also has an Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Program that funds innovations in automobile and light truck manufacturing. The two best-known innovations launched by this program are the Tesla Model S and Ford’s Eco-Boost engines.
  • Loans can be financed through the Federal Financing Bank (FFB), a branch of the U.S. Treasury, commercial lenders or a combination of the two.
  • FFB loans have ultra-low interest rates that are tied to 20-year Treasury notes as of the day of closing. Rates generally range between 2% and 3%.
  • DOE allows facility loans that cover multiple projects, so long the projects use the same “new and significantly improved” technology and generally replicate each other.
  • There are multiple application submission dates spread out over the next three years.
  • There are four criteria for applying for a DOE Title XVII USDA loan guarantee. Projects must:
  • Involve a new or significantly improved technology compared to other similar technologies in use in the U.S.
  • Make a significant contribution toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Be located in the U.S.
  • Demonstrate the ability to repay the loan obligation.

For further information on applying for financing through one of these loan guarantees, contact: Craig Evans, Managing Director, Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Tel: 434-303-0800, Email: craig@renwable-energy.consulting, or visit the RECS website at www.renewable-energy.consulting.

 

Grants for Technology Development & Commercialization

Have a new idea or concept? Ready to test out a promising concept at a small scale? Think you are ready to take the next step toward commercialization?

The U.S. government provides funding for developing and launching new technologies and concepts through thousands of grants that are awarded each year.

There are 10 Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), moving from concept (TRL-1) up through commercialization (TRL-10). Federal grants are available to support the development of innovations at all 10 Technology Readiness Levels.

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The National Science Foundation offers over 1,200 grants a year for TRLs 1-4; the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) also offers grants to support energy-related innovations for TRLs 1-4.

Nine federal agencies offer Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants that support technology development in three phases (TRL 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8).

Grants and loan guarantees also are available to move promising new technologies up through TRL 8 and 9 to full commercialization and deployment.

Other grant and loan guarantee programs are available for building and installing systems utilizing existing, commercially available technologies.

Renewable Energy Consulting Services (RECS) can assist with securing funding for all 10 Technology Readiness Levels and for utilizing existing, commercially available technologies.

For further information on applying for U.S. government grants and loan guarantees, please contact: Craig Evans, Managing Director, Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Tel: 434-303-0800, Email: craig@renwable-energy.consulting, or visit the RECS website at www.renewable-energy.consulting.

U.S. Government Loan Guarantee Programs for Renewable Energy

There are four U.S. government loan guarantee programs that provide low-interest loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Two of these programs – the US Department Of Agriculture Loans (USDA’s) Business & Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee Program and Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – provide funding for installing, using and deploying existing, commercially available technologies.

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The B&I program also provides guarantees for wide variety of other loans, including:

  • Business conversion, enlargement, repair, modernization, or development;
  • Purchase and development of land, easements, rights-of-way, buildings, or facilities;
  • Purchase of equipment, leasehold improvements, machinery, supplies, or inventory;
  • Debt refinancing when new jobs will be created and other conditions are met; and
  • Business and industrial acquisitions when the loan will keep the business from closing and/or save or create jobs.

The other two programs –USDA’s Section 9003 Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Title XVII Innovative Clean Energy Loan Guarantee Program – are designed specifically forcommercializing first-of-a-kind technologies.

Existing, Commercially Available Technologies

The USDA’s B&I and REAP programs provide guarantees for loans from commercial lenders. The two advantages of these guarantees are they reduce risk for the lenders, hence, make the lenders much more willing to finance a project. The second advantage is that, because of the guarantee, lenders offer a lower interest rate, often 1 point or more below their normal commercial lending rate.

The guarantees cover loans up to $25 million per project.  In some cases, it is possible to combine the B&I and REAP guarantees to cover a loan for a $50 million project.

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First-of-a-Kind Technologies:

For first-of-a-kind technologies, there are two choices:

  • USDA’s Section 9003 program provides guarantees for loans up to $250 million from commercial lenders. Applicationsare limited to the program’s three areas of focus: biofuels, renewable chemicals and bioproduct manufacturing. In all cases, a certain amount of biofuel must be produced.
  • DOE’s Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program provides ultra-low-interest loans through the Federal Financing Bank (FFB), a branch of the U.S. Treasury, from commercial lenders or a combination of the two. DOE has close to $40 billion in funding authority and has financed several projects in the billions of dollars including a $8.5 billion advanced nuclear power facility and a $5.6 billion concentrated solar power facility. Loans guarantees are available for renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced fossil energy,advanced nuclear energy, and advanced vehicle technology manufacturing

For further information on applying for financing through one of these loan guarantees, please contact: Craig Evans, Managing Director, Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Tel: 434-303-0800, Email: craig@renwable-energy.consulting, or visit the RECS website at www.renewable-energy.consulting.

U.S.Department of Energy Loan Guarantees

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provides loan guarantees to accelerate the commercialization of innovative clean energy projects.

This is one of very few programs in the private and government sectors that will finance first-of-a-kind technologies. Moreover, the DOE Loan Guarantee program offers the lowest-cost financing available for projects that require loans of $75 million to over $1 billion, with competive rates for loans of less than $75 million.

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Loans can be financed through commercial banks, bonds or other sources of private lending; through the Federal Financing Bank (FFB); or a combination of the two.  With FFB loans, interest rates are tied to U.S. Treasuries at 2% to 3% per year, and the total cost of money comes in at or below 4% for the 20-year term of a loan.

DOE’s authority to issue loan guarantees comes through Title XVII of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.  Hence, it is known as the Title XVII program.

DOEmanages a portfolio of more than $30 billion covering more than 30 projects. Overall these loans and loan guarantees have resulted in more than $50 billion in project investment.

While financing first-of-a-kind projects carries considerable risk (which is why commercial banks and private lenders avoid them and why the Title XVII program was created – to help promising technologies bridge what is known as the “valley of death” between successful development and commercialization), DOE has maintained a strong financial performance, even when compared to commercial banks, with its losses as a percentage of loans standing at a miniscule 2.33%

The Title XVII program currently has $36 billion available in loan guarantee authority through four different loan and loan guarantee funding opportunities. Three of these opportunities – for renewable energy and energy efficiency, advanced fossil energy and advanced nuclear energy projects –were extended at the end of November 2016for an additional three years, with multiple upcoming application submission dates. The fourth Title XVII loan program – for Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing, which provided the initial startup funding for the Tesla Model S and Ford Eco-Boost engine– is a standing $16 billion revolving loan program.

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Projects must: 1) utilize a new or significantly improved technology; 2) avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases; 3) be located in the U.S.; and 4) have a reasonable prospect of repayment.

Renewable Energy Consulting Services (RECS) can assist technology developers prepare and submit successful applications for all four of the DOE’s Title XVII programs. RECS’s focus, however, is on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and advanced fossil energy projects (that focus on commercializing technologies that will capture and store CO2 and/or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more compared to existing fossil fuel extraction, processing and production methods). RECS currently has applications making their way through the program for three technology innovators in these two programs.

For further information on applying for financing through the Title XVII program, please contact: Craig Evans, Managing Director, Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Tel: 434-303-0800, Email: craig@renwable-energy.consulting, or visit the RECS website at www.renewable-energy.consulting.

Developing Renewable Energy Opportunities on Tribal Lands

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Indian Energy, recently announced a grant opportunity to provide Native Americans with better access to renewable energy. The grant, “First Steps Toward Developing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency on Tribal Lands”, will award a total of $3 million with a maximum award of $250,000 for individual applicants.

The grant seeks to establish a baseline of tribal land energy use and geography to determine the most efficient way to implement renewable energy practices. The grant also seeks to develop tribal energy organizations and offer training specific to renewable energy use.

As one looks into the past at the different Native American tribes and their unique cultures one notices a major similarity between them, the ability to live in harmony with nature. In fact, many survivalist books today are based on the teachings of American Indian Tribes. With this cultural tie to nature in mind it makes sense for the federal government to help implement self-sustaining technology that can work with nature as opposed to against it.

Renewable energy seems to fit with the cultural blueprint of Native Americans but it also can provide a competitive source of income. According to the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, the Tribal lands in the Great Plains have the wind power potential to fuel over 50 million homes. If this potential was to be harnessed, those living in that area of the tribal lands would have a reliable new source of income. There already have been proven successes with wind and solar installations by some tribes such as the Hopi which bodes well for other tribes yet to invest in renewables.

The job market also would have a positive boost from this grant as it seeks to train and provide skills in the field of renewables. This will create demand for electrical engineers, technicians, and other jobs necessary to any organization such as administrative positions. Once the tribes understand how to maintain their renewable technologies a level of self-sustainability then will be reached. Just as countries on a global scale seek to become more self-reliant for their energy needs, Native American tribes have the potential to obtain the economic and peace-of-mind benefits of becoming independent energy producers.

Renewable energy was created to use what nature gives us without harming nature in return. What better culture to embrace such a technology than the one that originally taught the settlers how to live in harmony with Mother Nature?

The full application submission is due by October 20, 2016. Only Native American entities will be considered for the grant. More information can be found at http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=287557.

There is a pdf document that details the grant from the EERE site as well: file:///C:/Users/smack/Downloads/DE-FOA-0001621_First_Steps_Toward_Developing_Renewable_Energy_and_Energy_Efficiency_on_Tribal_Lands_%E2%80%93_2016.pdf

by Sam Mackay

Renewable Energy Consulting Services LLC

Program Management Associate

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Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea

There are some new residents at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Placed along the zoo’s walkways are an exhibit of 17 larger-than-life marine wildlife sculptures—from jellyfish to sharks—made entirely of plastic pollution recovered from oceans.

These massive sculptures represent the more than 315 billion pounds of plastic in oceans, illustrating the devastating effects of the ocean’s deadliest predator—trash.

The exhibit will be on display through September 5, after which it will move to three other cities (see Upcoming, below).

PBS news brief

PBS NewsHour’s Julia Griffin pays the plastic sea creatures a visit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.  Watch video.

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Seeing is believing

The Washed Ashore Project creates powerful art that captivates all ages and teaches environmental conservation and sustainability. The Washed Ashore Traveling Exhibits feature beautifully designed and well-crafted giant sea life sculptures made entirely of marine debris collected from beaches to graphically illustrate the tragedy of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways and to encourage conservation.

Thousands of volunteers of all ages have worked together with the non-profit organization Washed Ashore under the guidance of Artistic and Executive Director Angela Haseltine Pozzi to create these powerful art pieces.

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Current Exhibits

Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Washington, DC

May 27 – September 5, 2016

The Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta, Georgia

May – September 25, 2016

Oregon Gallery & Volunteer Workshop (home base for Washed Ashore)
Bandon, OR

Exhibit Open: Tues – Sat, 11am – 6pm; Workshop: Thurs – Sat, 12 – 5pm (ongoing)

Upcoming

Denver Zoo
Denver, Colorado

Opening September 24, 2016

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Tacoma, Washington

April 17 – October 16 2017

Reiman Gardens
Ames, Iowa

May – October 2017

Host an Exhibit

Show the world that your organization cares about the environment and is concerned about the threat to our oceans and waterways. Bring impact to your venue with powerful art that captivates all ages and teaches environmental conservation and sustainability.

http://washedashore.org/exhibit/host-an-exhibit/