DOE opens funding opportunity for feedstock research

By Erin Voegele | October 22, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced plans to award up to $14 million to support the development of landscape design approaches for cellulosic feedstocks that enhance environmental and socio-economic sustainability through the improvement of feedstock production, logistics systems and technology development.

According to the DOE, the funding will support interdisciplinary research and development projects that use landscape design principles to incorporate cellulosic feedstock production and logistics into existing agricultural or forestry systems. Examples of eligible projects could include growing energy crops on marginal lands to improve agricultural productivity and water quality, or the utilization of agricultural residue in a way that enhances both profitability and soil quality.

The funding will support activities that involve landowners and multi-disciplinary stakeholders in the landscape design process, establishing field research to quantify and improve sustainability metrics, and assessing logistics systems needed to provide cellulosic feedstocks to conversion facilities for bioenergy.

The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) indicates the DOE expects to make between one and three awards, ranging in value from $3 million to $14 million each. The cooperative agreements require a 20 percent cost share of total project costs.

For the purpose of the FOA, the DOE said cellulosic feedstock production refers to dedicated annual and perennial energy crops, the use of agricultural and forestry residues, or a combination of those options. The FOA further explains that the DOE is targeting high impact feedstocks, which are defined as feedstocks that are domestically available and have the agronomically and ecologically sustainable potential to generate at least 50 million dry metric tons of lignocellulosic biomass each year, or 1 billion gallons of biofuel.

Concept papers are due Nov. 11, with the deadline for full application packages set for Jan. 12. The DOE plans to hold a webinar on the FOA on Nov. 3. Additional information is available on the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Funding Opportunity Exchange website under DE-FOA-0001178.