DOE loan guarantee program targets biofuels, waste-to-energy

By Erin Voegele | July 10, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy has officially opened a loan guarantee solicitation, making up to $4 million available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases. The DOE announced its intention to open the Section 1703 loan guarantee solicitation in April. 

The DOE has identified five key technology areas of interest for the solicitation, including drop-in biofuels and waste-to-energy. Other technology areas targeted for the program include advanced grid integration and storage, enhancement of existing facilities including mico-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams, and efficiency improvements.

A fact sheet issued the DOE provides additional background on the key technology areas. For drop-in biofuels, the DOE has indicated a focus on projects that produce nearly identical biobased substitutes for crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel. Alternatively, projects could produce intermediate fuel feedstocks that could be integrated into existing oil petroleum refineries. According to the DOE, qualifying projects could include, but are not limited to, new biorefineries that produce renewable gasoline, diesel and/or jet fuel; biobased crude refining processes; and modifications to existing ethanol facilities to produce gasoline, diesel and/or jet fuel.

With regard to waste-to-energy, the solicitation is focused on projects harnessing waste products, such as landfill gas and segregated waste as a source of energy or fuel. The DOE noted these types of eligible projects would enable commercial-scale utilization of waste and anticipates qualified projects may include, but are not limited to, methane from landfills or biodigesters; crop waste-to-energy and bioprodcuts; and forestry waste-to-energy and cofiring.

According to information published by DOE, eligible projects must be located in the U.S. They must also avoid, reduce or sequester anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and employ new or significantly improved technology, as compared to commercial technology in service in the U.S.

The program solicitation provides a detailed description of the application process. The DOE has announced five application schedule rounds, and noted additional rounds may be announced at a later date. The application process contains two primary parts. The Part I deadline for the first round is Oct. 1, with the Part I deadline for the fifth round on Dec. 2, 2015. The first round Part II deadline is Jan. 14, 2015, with the round five Part II deadline set for March 2, 2016.

Additional information on the solicitation and application process is available on the DOE website.