A.  Agency Overview

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), an organization within the Department of Energy (DOE), is chartered by Congress in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-69), as amended by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358) to:

“(A) to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States through the development of energy technologies that result in—
      (i) reductions of imports of energy from foreign sources;
      (ii) reductions of energy-related emissions, including greenhouse gases; and
      (iii) improvement in the energy efficiency of all economic sectors; and
(B) to ensure that the United States maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.”

ARPA-E issues this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) under the programmatic authorizing statute codified at 42 U.S.C. § 16538.  The FOA and any awards made under this FOA are subject to 2 C.F.R. Part 200 as amended by 2 C.F.R. Part 910.

ARPA-E funds research on and the development of high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. The agency focuses on technologies that can be meaningfully advanced with a modest investment over a defined period of time in order to catalyze the translation from scientific discovery to early-stage technology.  For the latest news and information about ARPA-E, its programs and the research projects currently supported, see: arpa-e.energy.gov/.

ARPA-E funds transformational research. Existing energy technologies generally progress on established “learning curves” where refinements to a technology and the economies of scale that accrue as manufacturing and distribution develop drive down the cost/performance metric in a gradual fashion. This continual improvement of a technology is important to its increased commercial deployment and is appropriately the focus of the private sector and it can be spurred by early-stage R&D supported by the applied energy offices in DOE.   By contrast, ARPA-E supports high-risk, potentially transformative research that has the potential to create fundamentally new learning curves.  ARPA-E R&D projects typically start with cost/performance estimates for the proposed technology that are well above the level of the competitive incumbent technology.  Given the high risk inherent in these projects, many will fail to progress, but some may succeed in generating a new learning curve with a projected cost/performance metric that is significantly lower than that of the incumbent technology.

ARPA-E funds technology with the potential to be disruptive in the marketplace. The mere creation of a new learning curve does not ensure market penetration. Rather, the ultimate value of a technology is determined by the marketplace, and impactful technologies ultimately become disruptive – that is, they are widely adopted and displace existing technologies from the marketplace or create entirely new markets.  ARPA-E understands that definitive proof of market disruption takes time, particularly for energy technologies.  Therefore, ARPA-E funds the development of technologies that, if technically successful, have the clear disruptive potential, e.g., by demonstrating capability for manufacturing at competitive cost and deployment at scale.

ARPA-E funds applied research and development.  The Office of Management and Budget defines “applied research” as an “original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge…directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective” and defines “development” as “creative and systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience, which is directed at producing new products of processes or improving existing products or processes.”[1]  Applicants interested in receiving financial assistance for basic research should contact the DOE’s Office of Science (http://science.energy.gov/).  Office of Science national scientific user facilities (http://science.energy.gov/user-facilities/) are open to all researchers, including ARPA-E applicants and awardees.  These facilities provide advanced tools of modern science including accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, light sources and neutron sources, as well as facilities for studying the nanoworld, the environment, and the atmosphere.  Projects focused on early-stage R&D for the improvement of technology along defined roadmaps may be more appropriate for support through the DOE applied energy offices including:  the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (www.eere.energy.gov/), the Office of Fossil Energy (fossil.energy.gov/), the Office of Nuclear Energy (http://www.energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy), and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (https://www.energy.gov/oe/office-electricity).

B. Program Background

C. Program Objectives

D. Technical Categories and Subcategories of Interest

For information on the Program Background, Program Objectives and Technical Categories and Subcategories of Interest, refer to the text provided in FOA document.

[1] OMB Circular A-11 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/assets/a11_current_year/a11_2017.pdf), Section 84, pgs. 3-4.