We dove into the funding opportunity announcement so you don't have to.
Overview: $3.5 Billion Battery Funding Opportunity
The Department of Energy (DOE) released a $3.5 billion funding opportunity announcement (FOA) on November 15, 2023, to further development of the electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain in the U.S., creating good jobs and growing the domestic economy. These cost-share grants are funded by the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The awards are administered by the Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC), in conjunction with the American Battery Materials Initiative.
The FOA is focused on expanding domestic U.S. battery manufacturing and recycling capabilities and developing a battery materials processing sector in the U.S. It emphasizes creating good jobs, especially in low- and middle-income communities and communities at risk of job loss due to transition away from fossil fuels. The FOA funds lithium and “non-lithium” supply chains, anode and cathode materials, electrolyte salts and solvents, battery cells and systems, and other technologies (open call).
This is the second tranche of funding for batteries and battery supply chains under the BIL, which allocated over $7 billion total to the sector between fiscal years 2022 and 2026. This specific FOA supports BIL Sections 40207 (b) and (c).
Mandatory Concept Paper Deadline: January 9, 2024, at 5pm ET
Full Application Deadline: March 19, 2024, at 5pm ET
Expected Notification: August 2024
Award Negotiations: August 2024-January 2025
This opportunity will have multiple deadlines, with a second FOA anticipated for September 2024. Two additional rounds will be issued if all funding is not disbursed in the first two rounds. That being said, any area of interest may close earlier if all funding for that area is used in the first round.
Bottom Line: If your company is ready, it should apply in the first round to have the best chance of success.
Eligible entities are domestic industry, academic institutions, national laboratories, state and local governments, and consortia formed from these groups. Domestic entities are those that are “organized, chartered, or incorporated (or otherwise formed) under the laws of a particular state or territory of the United States; have majority domestic ownership and control; and have a physical place of business in the United States.”
Priority will be given to applicants who “(1) will not use battery material supplied by or originating from a Foreign Entity Of Concern (FEOC), and (2) will not export recovered critical materials to a FEOC.” This generally includes entities “owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of” the governments of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. FEOC is defined in BIL section 40207(a)(5).
Award Categories & Funding Distribution
There are eight areas of interest with different levels of federal funding depending on whether a company is applying for a retrofit/retool/expansion or a new facility. Company cost share should be at least 50%; the FOA has a cost share calculator companies can use.
The award time frame is expected to be 24-60 months.
Specific areas of interest are laid out below, with the expected federal award share, number of awards available, and total funding available for each area of interest.
Award Scoring Criteria
For the concept paper: Responsiveness to the FOA and project viability account for 100% of the final score.
For the full application:
Technical merit, innovation, and supply chain impact: 30%
Cost share, financial resources, and commercial market viability: 30%
Project work plan, management team, and partners: 20%
Community benefits plan 20%
Number of Applications per Entity
An organization may submit multiple applications as long as each is for a distinct project and as long as a separate concept paper was submitted on time for each one.
Cost share is required according to the minimum proportions laid out above. The prime contractor holds legal responsibility for the cost share, but partners can distribute costs how they like.
Community Benefit Plans
Each application must include a community benefit plan (CBP), which accounts for 20% of the award scoring criteria. CBPs differ slightly for bench scale and pilot scale projects. They must be project-specific and include at least one clear goal per budget period. CBPs have four main goals:
Community and labor engagement
Investing in job quality and workforce continuity
Advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA)
Contributing to the Justice40 initiative
Environmental, Sourcing, and Labor Requirements
Project work must take place in the U.S. and projects are subject to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Build America Buy America, and Davis-Bacon requirements where applicable. Participation by foreign entities or foreign workers requires a waiver. A project labor agreement (PLA) is encouraged.