The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) works with businesses, industries, universities, and other stakeholders to increase the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This page outlines the variety of ways to work with EERE, including financial assistance and business opportunities.
EERE encourages renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development in the private sector primarily through financial assistance awards. Financial assistance awards transfer money, property, or services to a recipient so that it can accomplish a public purpose authorized by federal statute. For example, a financial assistance award might be used to fund research to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.
Types of financial assistance directly funded by EERE include grants, cooperative agreements, continuation awards, and renewal awards. Indirect financial assistance may also be available through subawards, laboratory subcontracts, and cooperative research and development agreements. These types of financial assistance may be awarded on a competitive or noncompetitive basis.
EERE's primary funding vehicles for businesses, industries, universities, and other stakeholders are grants and cooperative agreements. Most EERE grants are awarded on a competitive basis. EERE solicits applications in specific program areas and selects projects based on a merit review process that includes industry and technology experts.
Cooperative agreements are similar to grants, but they require more involvement from the federal government. In work performed through these agreements, the federal government exercises more control in technical implementation. This may include project collaboration, participation in project management, or intervention in the activity.
Financial opportunities for Native American tribes are detailed on the Tribal Energy Program site and include grants and project financing. The Tribal Energy Program provides financial and technical assistance to tribes for their renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
To accomplish its mission, EERE works with DOE's world-class national laboratories. The national laboratories that receive research funding from EERE often have financial opportunities for industry and outside organizations. The most common of these—laboratory subcontracts—are normally competitively selected and begin with a solicitation. Laboratory subcontracts are evaluated by laboratory contracting staff. Visit the individual laboratory sites to learn more:
Argonne National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Idaho National Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
National Energy Technology Laboratory
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Sandia National Laboratories
Savannah River National Laboratory
In some cases, more than one business or organization may participate in a project funded by a grant or subcontract. In these cases, a subaward may be applicable. Subawards are financial support for businesses or organizations that work on a project but are not the primary awardee. Subawards are often planned into proposals for grants and other financial opportunities. They allow companies or organizations to bring in outside expertise that will benefit the project. Subawardees are subject to the same guidelines and requirements as the primary awardee.
If you have an invention you would like to get funded, you can seek funding for energy efficiency or renewable energy technologies through several routes: the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR), an unsolicited proposal, or, outside of EERE, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The SBIR/STTR programs are operated by federal agencies that have substantial R&D budgets, through a set-aside mechanism tailored for competitions among small businesses only.
ARPA-E was established within DOE under the 2007 America Competes Act. ARPA-E's mission is to fund innovative projects that will develop transformational technologies to reduce America's dependence on foreign energy imports; reduce U.S. energy-related emissions (including greenhouse gases); improve energy efficiency across all sectors of the U.S. economy; and ensure that the United States maintains its leadership in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.
Financial assistance may be awarded on a noncompetitive basis through unsolicited proposals. An unsolicited proposal is an application for assistance that is not submitted at the request of the government or in response to a solicitation announcement. DOE's central point for unsolicited proposals is the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Learn more at NETL's Solicitations and Business Opportunities page.
EERE also manages formula grants for state and local government energy projects, including the Weatherization Assistance Program, the State Energy Program (SEP), and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Funding formulas are set by federal statute. State energy offices may also have programs and opportunities of interest; look up your state energy office.
In another form of noncompetitive funding, cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs), DOE funds a national lab to work with a private-sector partner to further research and development. Unlike other types of financial opportunities, CRADAs do not result in a financial award. In the simplest form of a CRADA partnership, each party contributes equally to the project in terms of labor, funding, and facilities. In more complex arrangements, the private partner may opt for a "funds in" arrangement, in which it defers part of the laboratory's expenses. For more information about the CRADA programs of EERE-funded laboratories, see the links at the Cooperative Research and Development Agreements page.
Another way EERE partners with business is through the procurement of goods and services. A procurement contract is used to buy, lease, or barter property or services that will benefit the federal government. For example, EERE would use a procurement contract to purchase computers for its employees. If you have a product to offer, getting listed on the General Service Administration's (GSA) schedule and bidders list is the first step toward selling products and services to the federal government. Learn more about the GSA's schedule and purchasing programs.
You also may be able to partner with an ESCO, or energy service company, to provide services to federal facilities. An ESCO is a commercial business providing designs and implementation of energy savings projects, energy conservation, energy infrastructure outsourcing, power generation and energy supply, and risk management. DOE maintains a list of qualified ESCOs contracted to provide energy savings performance contract services.
EERE's Federal Energy Management Program Office offers a comprehensive guide "Selling Energy-Efficient Products to the Federal Government". The guide gives tips on the "ABCs of Government Purchasing," how to get on a bidder's list, special opportunities for small businesses, and more. The booklet includes links to additional online resources.
Register with FedConnect to gain immediate access to information on current DOE business opportunities. This includes automated notifications and the opportunity to electronically access and download solicitations, submit bids or proposals and, if selected, receive awards.
FedBizOpps is the system for all acquisition opportunities throughout the federal government. You can register with both FedBizOpps and Grants.gov to receive e-mail notifications of new opportunities.