U.S. DOE Seeks Input On How To Boost Domestic Manufacturing

U.S. DOE Seeks Input On How To Boost Domestic Manufacturing
U.S. DOE is looking at how best to use the Defense Production Act and help the domestic production of key technologies and deployment of clean energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a Request for Information (RFI) to determine how it could best leverage the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of key technologies, strengthen power grid reliability, and deploy clean energy. 

The national defense imperative to strengthen the U.S. clean energy manufacturing base has become more urgent. Russia’s war on Ukraine and the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted global supply chains and underscored the dangers of our overreliance on foreign sources for grid components and fossil fuels from adversarial nations.

In the electricity sector, supply chain challenges such as wait times for upwards of two years for grid transformers have coincided with an increase in climate-fueled disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires that threaten grid reliability. Building the domestic energy industrial base necessary to maintain and strengthen grid reliability and resilience is critical to the U.S. economy and our national defense.

“The Defense Production Act provides us with a vital tool to make targeted investments in key technology areas that are essential to ensuring power grid reliability and achieving our clean energy future,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is eager to continue hearing ideas from industry, labor, environmental, energy justice, and state, local, and Tribal stakeholders about how we can best use this powerful new authority to support the clean energy workforce and technologies needed to combat climate change.”  

To understand further how to increase the manufacturing output and the rate of deployment of key clean energy technologies, DOE is interested in gathering public input on how to use the Defense Production Act to address technology supply chain challenges and opportunities, domestic manufacturing – including small and medium-sized scale, American workforce investment, as well as energy equity, community access, and economic benefit.

With this, DOE could pursue several approaches to strengthen U.S. supply chains including purchases, purchase commitments, and financial assistance. For instance, DOE could provide direct financial support to expand domestic manufacturing capacity for transformers or key material inputs, including establishing domestic supply chains to manufacture next-generation transformers, or could commit to purchasing transformers to provide manufacturers with demand certainty. 

President Biden announced in June new authority for DOE regarding the Defense Production Act pertaining to five energy technologies. The technologies covered by this Request for Information include transformers and electric grid components, solar photovoltaics, insulation materials, electrolyzers, platinum group metals, and fuel cells for clean hydrogen.

The DOE has already announced its plans to use $250 million of funds appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act to support Defense Production Act investment in the fifth technology part of President Biden’s announcement – heat pump manufacturing and deployment. Accordingly, DOE will seek public input on the use of these funds for heat pumps in a separate forthcoming comment opportunity.

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