WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $590 million to renew its four existing Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs). This funding will help support the Department’s research into the next generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy from domestic biomass resources, which is critical to reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring future energy security, and creating new economic opportunities in rural areas. Since their inception, the BRCs have made groundbreaking scientific contributions to and advancements in biotechnology that are helping to expand the diversity of reliable domestic clean energy sources and ensuring the United States reaches President Biden’s ambitious goal of net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
“To meet our future energy needs, we will need versatile renewables like bioenergy as a low-carbon fuel for some parts of our transportation sector,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Continuing to fund the important scientific work conducted at our Bioenergy Research Centers is critical to ensuring these sustainable resources can be an efficient and affordable part of our clean energy future.”
Each of the four centers, led by a National Laboratory or University, support the science behind a bio-based economy and aims to break down the barriers to building a strong domestic bioenergy industry. The centers include the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University; the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, led by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Continuing to invest in these centers promises to yield a range of important new products and fuels derived directly from non-food plant biomass, such as switchgrass, poplar, energy cane, and energy sorghum.
“Wisconsin’s world-class research institutions have long supported America’s bio-based energy industry, including biofuels and biomass, that cut energy costs, create rural economic opportunity, and take on climate change,” said U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI). “This investment from the Biden administration will help us continue this proud tradition. These resources will help Wisconsin’s research institutions continue to innovate, boosting farmers’ and producers’ bottom lines, developing cleaner energy, and moving our Made in Wisconsin economy forward.”
“One of the best ways for our nation to strengthen our competitiveness with the rest of the world is to enhance the brilliance that already exists right here in Illinois,” said U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL). “I’m pleased that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation will receive this federal funding to help support groundbreaking research on clean energy, create jobs, address climate change and further secure Illinois’s place as a global leader.”
“As a graduate of the University of Illinois and its proud representative in Congress, I’m honored to join Secretary Granholm in announcing $590 million that will benefit bioenergy research at my alma mater,” said U.S. Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13). “For the last five years, the University of Illinois has done groundbreaking research at the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation to revolutionize the role of biofuels and agriculture in our 21st century energy economy. I’m so glad to see funding for this project renewed for the next five years and I look forward to seeing how these resources will benefit family farmers, our environment and rural communities across Central and Southern Illinois.”
Over the past fifteen years the BRCs have led in the development of basic science innovations across the bioenergy sector, from exploring more sustainable agriculture practices to designing microbial processes to produce a range of products, such as fuels, chemicals, and materials from dedicated bioenergy crops. This latest renewal allows the BRCs to build on their record of accomplishments and represents the culmination of their important research into the science behind and benefits of biobased products and a biofuel economy, which will inform future researchers for years to come.
The decision to renew the four BRCs followed a successful review by a panel of outside peer reviewers on each center’s past five years of performance. Initial funding for the four centers will total $110 million for Fiscal Year 2023, outyear funding will total up to $120 million per year over the following four years and is contingent on availability of funds.
To learn more about DOE’s Bioenergy Research Centers, click here. To learn more about DOE’s efforts to advance low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts, click here.