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NETL Celebrates One-Year Anniversary, Contributions to Bipartisan Infrastructure Law  
At the one-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we see how this investment is guiding the nation toward a carbon-free electricity sector and net-zero economy

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, America committed to rebuilding the country’s roads and bridges, expanding access to clean drinking water, tackling the climate crisis and advancing environmental justice by building a more resilient future and investing in communities that have too often been left behind.

As one of three U.S. Department of Energy procurement organizations, NETL professionals — including scientists and engineers, specialists in procurement, legal, the National Environmental Policy Act and communications — will be applying their expertise to process and manage nearly $15 billion of BIL awards. The Lab is well on its way to executing a significant portion of the BIL’s $62.5 billion. 

Now, at the one-year anniversary of this once-in-a-generation investment in America’s competitiveness, we are beginning to see how the BIL is helping to deliver more clean energy, create new good-paying jobs, and lower costs for American families and workers all while guiding the nation towards a 100% carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero economy by 2050.

I’m proud to share a few highlights of NETL’s BIL work to strengthen the nation’s outdated energy infrastructure. 

  • $3.16 billion to boost American battery manufacturing and supply chains — In support of Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains, NETL is helping to create new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial facilities, and to demonstrate manufacturing and battery recycling. Additionally, projects are finding second-life applications for batteries once used to power electric vehicles, as well as new processes for recycling materials back into the battery supply chain. 
  • $2.295 billion to enhance the resilience of the electric grid — NETL is supporting the new Grid Development Office (GDO) through these projects with states and Indian tribes that are strengthening and modernizing America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis to protect neighborhoods, main streets and downtowns from grid shutdowns during extreme weather events.
  • $3.9 billion to Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) — In further support of the new Grid Development Office, NETL issued a funding opportunity announcement to prevent outages and enhance the resilience of the electric grid, deploy technologies to enhance grid flexibility, and to demonstrate innovative approaches to power sector infrastructure resilience and reliability.  
  • $156 million for rare earth element demonstration facilities —These NETL-managed projects are enabling construction of a first-of-a-kind facility to extract and separate rare earth elements and critical minerals from unconventional sources like mining waste. Rare earth elements and other critical minerals are key to manufacturing clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells. 
  • $2.25 billion to advance carbon storage validation and testing; $2.537 billion for carbon capture demonstrations; and $100 million for Carbon Capture Technology Program front-end engineering and design studies for CO2 pipelines — Through these investments in the carbon management industry, NETL and its project partners are working to significantly reduce CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere through power generation and industrial operations. The funding supports the demonstration and deployment of carbon capture systems, along with carbon transport and storage infrastructure. The BIL is helping DOE advance projects that can store tens of millions of tons of CO2, especially in hard to decarbonize sectors and heavy industries such as steel and cement production, bringing jobs to our economy and delivering a healthier environment for all Americans. 
  • NETL Leverages the Energy Data Exchange for Carbon Capture and Sequestration (EDX4CCS) — NETL provided an advanced, strategic carbon capture and storage (CCS)-specific data infrastructure system to drive efficient and rapid deployment of CCS efforts. This five-year project targets the deployment of strategic data integration, model/tool virtualization, and community visualization and capacity building through the DisCO2ver Platform hosted within DOE's Energy Data eXchange (EDX®) data curation and collaboration ecosystem. This CCS data infrastructure investment will accelerate the reuse of CCS Program products and capabilities of the past seven years, while simultaneously offering a one-stop-shop for stakeholders to derive new insights to accelerate CCS investments, regulatory, risk and strategic decision support needs. Ultimately, this work will mature and expand upon prior data infrastructure investments, transforming them to accelerate integration and advanced deployment of CCS capabilities and resources, putting these valuable, but at present largely disparate, capabilities and data assets into the hands of stakeholders to accelerate CCS deployment.
  • NETL Identifies Undocumented Orphaned Wells — This DOE collaboration with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) developed a program to reduce the impact of undocumented orphaned wells (UOW). It is estimated that 210,000 to 746,000 of UOWs leak methane in the United States with unknown locations and missing information such as ownership or construction details. This project provides robust capability to plug these UOWs, which will help communities reduce methane emissions and eliminate other environmental impacts. DOE, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and IOGCC created a research consortium that includes several national laboratories. The consortium leverages institutional knowledge and existing processes, as well as fundamental and applied science expertise, to undertake the primary objectives as defined in the BIL, focusing specifically on undocumented orphaned oil and gas wells. Research, development, demonstration, and deployment for this program will be aimed at finding and characterizing UOWs and determining the physical locations, methane emissions, wellbore integrity, and other environmental impacts of those wells so they can be prioritized for plugging and abandoning activities by State and Federal agencies. 
  • NETL commences SMART Phase 2 — The Science-informed Machine Learning (ML) for Accelerating Real-Time Decisions in Subsurface Applications (SMART) Initiative is a multi-year, multi-phase, multi-organizational effort that is transforming the ability to make better, informed decisions related to the subsurface through real-time visualization, forecasting, and virtual learning. The outcomes of the SMART Initiative are science-informed ML-based tools that can be applied at carbon storage sites throughout the nation and the world to: (1) improve the ability to consolidate technical knowledge, site-specific characterization information, and real-time data in a digestible way; (2) enable the optimization of carbon storage reservoirs by creating a capability for “real-time” forecasting of carbon storage reservoir behavior; and (3) improve the ability to understand and communicate subsurface behavior during carbon storage operations to non-experts. In short, the SMART tools will help accelerate the deployment of field scale carbon storage in the U.S. and the world.

These are just a few of the important projects that NETL experts are undertaking with DOE program partners in the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management; the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; the Office of Electricity; Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response; the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations; the Grid Deployment Office; the Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains; and the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation.   

Behind execution of these critical investments is the hard work of NETL scientists and engineers whose commitment to excellence was obvious as we delivered quality program support and financial oversight of BIL efforts. The result is substantial progress toward our nation’s prosperous, decarbonized energy future.