The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $4.5 million in funding for training programs for professionals who interact with distributed energy resources, including smart building technologies, solar energy systems, storage systems and electric vehicles.
These professionals include those that lead the nation’s emergency response and resilience planning, including firefighters, first responders, and safety officials, DOE said in a release.
“These professionals are at the frontlines of a rapidly changing energy system,” said Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Assistant Secretary Daniel Simmons. “Through this training program, DOE can help these professionals easily understand and manage distributed energy systems so that they can focus on keeping America safe.”
The DOE noted that there are more than 115 million homes and 5.5 million commercial buildings across the U.S., and the market for smart and connected devices in buildings is growing 20% annually. Demand for solar and storage systems is also growing rapidly, the agency added.
As these technologies spread across the country, the professionals who integrate these technologies into their communities’ broader planning, safety, and resilience efforts often lack access to the most up-to-date training and information.
The Educational Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding program is a collaborative effort across EERE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), and Building Technologies Office (BTO). DOE expects to fund two to four awards between $1 million and $ 2.5 million each.
Projects in this funding opportunity will focus on developing, testing, and disseminating educational materials. In addition to developing new education materials, projects will also focus on working with existing training organizations in each of the targeted professional groups, to ensure that the right materials get to the right people in an effective way.
Mandatory concept papers are due on May 5, 2020, DOE said.
DOE has been recently engaged in initiatives to improve projects in the smart buildings field. In February 2020, the U.S. agency announced $74 million for 63 selected projects to research, develop, and test energy-efficient and flexible building technologies, systems, and construction practices to improve the energy performance of the country’s’s buildings and electric grid.
DoE said that awardees include national laboratories, universities, small businesses, and industry partners.
The research partnerships announced that they will pursue new technologies to enhance the energy productivity of buildings and improve the capacity of buildings to operate more flexibly, the DOE said.
DoE previously said that many of these projects will advance technologies to unlock energy savings through grid interactive efficient buildings and advanced building construction technologies and practices. For example, the grid interactive efficient building projects will make advances in technologies to link buildings to one another across the internet and the power grid, which would enable a greater degree of flexibility over conventional buildings to reschedule operations to periods of the day when energy is cheaper and more efficient to use.
Other projects will focus on developing new thermal energy storage materials, advancements in non-vapor compression HVAC technologies, fuel-driven building equipment, and solid-state lighting, DOE said.