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U.S. DOE Memo Enhances Energy Research Data Access
New guidelines require data from various research projects to be submitted to FECM and NETL where they will be made publicly available.

New guidelines require data from various research projects to be submitted to FECM and NETL where they will be made publicly available.

Recognizing the importance of collaborative assets for energy-related research needs, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has taken steps to ensure a permanent place for researchers around the world to access research data.

In late 2022, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) Brad Crabtree signed a memo recognizing the importance of preserving all data gathered within the FECM R&D portfolio, where it will be made publicly available via assets like the Energy Data eXchange (EDX®). The memo represents DOE’s commitment to unlocking data access to ensure the nation’s clean energy future as well as supporting compliance with department policies and administration executive orders. 

“Organizations and governments are moving rapidly to harness data-driven artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Crabtree said in the memo. “FECM is already using these tools to significantly minimize the environmental impacts of fossil fuels and smooth the transition toward net-zero carbon emissions; however, FECM research teams must often spend inordinate time and effort to create, locate, or procure the datasets they need. Advising FECM research partners to submit data products from their funded research to FECM and NETL will help future researchers rapidly identify and access needed datasets, reducing costs, and accelerating the development of critical technologies.”

Since NETL launched EDX in 2011, it has helped preserve billions of dollars’ of federally funded research data products and connected stakeholders to vital data from collaborative U.S. government, academic, and commercial industry energy research. EDX was primarily user driven, with researchers and technical staff at NETL contributing data as they went, but with the new memo ensuring all national lab will curate content, the platform has been enshrined as a vital piece of DOE digital infrastructure.

“Effectively, the memo from Assistant Secretary Crabtree complies and supports guidance related to public access to federally funded research and development products, requiring all finalized data products associated with FECM funded work to be contributed to EDX,” explained Chad Rowan, EDX operations lead. “FECM research teams have, for the most part, voluntarily used and contributed to EDX over the years but the memo elevates the stakes.”

Today, EDX enables discovery and access to a range of energy data and information pertinent to carbon storage, subsurface resources (shale gas, tight oil, offshore deep- and ultra-deep water, and unconventional fossil energy resources), energy infrastructure (transmission lines, pipelines, etc.), and other energy systems.

The data and information available in EDX are a combination of NETL research products as well as data from other authoritative sources that includes research databases, datasets, models, tools, web applications, digital notebooks, reports, and much more. The information contained therein is vital for getting research projects off the ground. The EDX platform now provides access to more than 370 terabytes of data, 3,600 registered users, and 1,200 secure, collaborative workspaces.

As of 2021, EDX is part of NETL’s Science-based Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Institute (SAMI). SAMI leverages science-based models, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (AI/ML) methods, data analytics, and advanced computing to accelerate applied technology development for clean, efficient, and affordable energy production and use.

“Ensuring future access to the use of FECM-funded research data not only properly aligns with other executive orders, laws, and policies of the administration, but also makes information FAIR — findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable,” Rowan said. “This means a treasure trove of information for researchers is in one place. They don’t have to spend time discovering, acquiring, processing, annotating, etc., and can skip straight to analyzing and informing.”

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.