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ARPA-E: Biden’s Proposed FY 2023 Budget Boosts Investment in Clean Energy Technologies

On March 28, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration sent the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 to the United States Congress (“Congress”). The President’s proposed $5.8 trillion budget for FY 2023 allocates billions of dollars toward combating climate change and boosting clean energy development. Biden’s budget requests $48.2 billion for the Department of Energy (“DOE”), with $700 million of those funds allocated to the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program (“ARPA-E”).[1] With these increased funds, the Biden administration plans for ARPA-E to expand its scope beyond energy technology–focused projects to include climate adaptation and resilience innovations.[2]

What Is ARPA-E?

ARPA-E is a United States federal government agency under the purview of the Department of Energy that funds and promotes the research and development of advanced energy technologies. ARPA-E was recommended to Congress in the 2005 National Academies report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Bright Economic Future, which published recommendations for federal government actions to maintain and expand U.S. competitiveness.[3] In 2007, ARPA-E was officially created after Congress implemented a number of the report’s recommendations by enacting the America COMPETES Act.[4] The 2007 Act was superseded by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which incorporated much of the original language of the 2007 Act but made some modifications to ARPA-E structure.[5] In 2009, ARPA-E officially commenced operations after receiving its first appropriated funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 —$400 million to fund the establishment of ARPA-E.[6]

ARPA-E’s mission is statutorily defined as overcoming “the long-term and high-risk technology barriers in the development of energy technologies.”[7] This involves the development of energy technologies that will achieve various goals, including the reduction of fossil fuel imports, the reduction of energy-related emissions, improvements in energy efficiency, and increased resilience and security of energy infrastructure.[8] The statute directs ARPA-E to pursue these objectives through particular means:

  1. Identifying and promoting revolutionary advances in fundamental and applied sciences;
  2. Translating scientific discoveries and cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations; and
  3. Accelerating transformational technological advances in areas industry is unlikely to undertake because of technical and financial uncertainty.[9]

The Impact of ARPA-E

Since 2009, ARPA-E has provided approximately $3 billion in R&D funding for over 1,294 potentially transformational energy technology projects.[10] Publishing annual reports to analyze and catalog its influence, the agency tracks commercial impact with key early indicators, including private-sector follow-on funding, new company formation, partnership with other government agencies, publications, inventions, and patents.[11]

Many ARPA-E project teams have continued to advance their technologies: 129 new companies have been formed, 285 licenses have been issued, 268 teams have partnered with another government agency, and 185 teams have together raised over $9.87 billion in private-sector follow-on funding.[12] In addition, ARPA-E projects fostered technological innovation and advanced scientific knowledge, as evidenced by the 5,497 peer-reviewed journal articles and 829 patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that sprung from the ARPA-E program.[13] ARPA-E recently announced that it is starting to count exits through public listings, mergers, and acquisitions. As of January 2022, ARPA-E has 20 exits with a total reported value of $21.6 billion.[14]

How Does Biden’s FY 2023 Budget Affect ARPA-E?

Biden has requested a 56% increase for ARPA-E, to $700 million.[15] The budget also proposes expansions of ARPA-E’s purview to more fully address innovation gaps around adaptation, mitigation, and resilience to the impacts of climate change.[16] This investment in research and development of high-potential and high-impact technologies aims to help remove technological barriers to advance energy and environmental missions.[17]

The request provides that ARPA-E shall also expand its scope “to invest in climate-related innovations necessary to achieve net zero climate-inducing emissions by 2050.”[18] Given the increasing bipartisan support for alternative energy funding and ARPA-E’s continuing and rising commercial impact, it is likely that ARPA-E’s funding and support of the research and development of early-stage energy technologies will continue to pave the way for the commercialization of advanced energy technologies.

 


[1] https://www.law360.com/articles/1478133/biden-budget-provides-billions-for-clean-energy
[2] https://www.energy.gov/articles/statement-energy-secretary-granholm-president-bidens-doe-fiscal-year-2023-budget
[3] https://doi.org/10.17226/24778
[4] Id. at 22
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] 42 U.S.C. § 16538(b)
[8] 42 U.S.C. § 16538(c)(1)(A)
[9] 42 U.S.C. § 16538(c)(2)
[10] https://arpa-e.energy.gov/about/our-impact
[11] Id.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] https://www.science.org/content/article/biden-s-2023-budget-request-science-aims-high-again
[16] https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/budget_fy2023.pdf
[17] Id.
[18] https://www.science.org/content/article/biden-s-2023-budget-request-science-aims-high-again 
 
 

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Authors

Kaoru C. Suzuki

Associate

Kaoru C. Suzuki is a Mintz Associate who focuses on corporate transactions, securities law compliance, and general corporate matters. Kaoru counsels companies in various industries, including energy, clean tech & renewables, life sciences, and information technology.

Riya Rana

Riya Rana is a Mintz Project Analyst currently working with the firm’s Corporate practice. Riya earned a BA, with honors, from Johns Hopkins University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.