WASHINGTON, D.C.— In support of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $32 million for projects that will help build facilities that produce rare earth elements and other critical minerals and materials from domestic coal-based resources. The funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will strengthen domestic supply chains, helping meet the growing demand for critical minerals and reduce reliance on foreign sources. Rare earth elements and other critical minerals are key to manufacturing clean energy technologies here in America—such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells. Coal and coal production waste contain a wide variety of valuable rare earth elements that can be converted into clean energy technology components, creating high-quality jobs in energy communities and helping advance President Biden’s historic climate agenda and Bidenomics strategy for growing the economy from the middle out and bottom-up.
“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is providing a historic opportunity to convert coal products into the critical materials needed to build an array of clean energy products,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The President’s transformative investments will strengthen our national security by lessening our dependence on international supply chains, while delivering high-quality jobs and healthier communities for all Americans.”
Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) Studies for Production of Critical Minerals and Materials from Coal-Based Resources Funding Opportunity Announcement
The United States currently imports greater than 80% of its rare earth elements from non-domestic suppliers. But rare earth elements naturally occur all around us, including in our domestic coal and coal wastes. The funding opportunity announcement released today is seeking to tap this unconventional resource to help build a domestic supply chain critical to the U.S. economy, clean energy, and national security. The program funds research, development, and demonstration projects that support the development of intermediate- and/or demonstration-scale facilities for domestic production and refining of rare earth elements and other critical minerals across the country. The FEED studies will establish and define technical requirements focused on project scope, schedule, and costs, and reduce risk during the construction and operation of the future facilities. These facilities will also help to create healthier environments for our local communities by using our abundant national sources of coal and coal by-products to extract, separate, and produce rare earth elements and other critical minerals and materials. These include more than 250 billion tons of coal reserves, over 4 billion tons of waste coal, and about 2 billion tons of coal ash at various sites across the country.
Read more details of this funding opportunity announcement here. All questions must be submitted through FedConnect; register here for an account. The application deadline is September 11, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Societal Considerations and Impacts
In alignment with the the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice and equity, funding applicants must carefully address the societal considerations and impacts of their proposed projects, emphasizing early and active engagement with communities.
Applicants must explain how projects are expected to deliver economic and environmental benefits and mitigate impacts; conduct community and stakeholder engagement; incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and promote workforce development and quality jobs. Projects selected under this opportunity will be required to develop and implement strategies to ensure strong community and worker benefits, and report on such activities and outcomes.
DOE’s Advancements in Critical Minerals and Materials
Since January 2021, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management has invested more than $41 million in projects that support resource identification and production of rare earth elements and other critical minerals and materials in traditional fossil fuel-producing communities across the country. This total includes $16 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for detailed engineering and cost studies toward a first-of-a-kind domestic facility that will extract and separate rare earth elements and critical minerals from unconventional sources like mining waste. This funding will create new opportunities to remediate land and water while generating rare earth elements necessary for a clean energy economy.
FECM minimizes environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across our economy. Priority areas of technology work include carbon capture, carbon conversion, carbon dioxide removal, carbon dioxide transport and storage, hydrogen production with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM website, sign up for FECM news announcements, and visit the National Energy Technology Laboratory website.