Commerce announces latest round of Clean Energy Fund investments

Source: Washington State Department of Commerce, April 4, 2022

Competitive process identifies 10 proposed research, development and demonstration projects to receive $8.5 million in Clean Energy Fund grants

OLYMPIA, WA – Making green hydrogen fuel from captured Co2, water and electricity for a quiet, clean portable alternative to diesel-powered generators. Repurposing retired electric bus batteries. Creating next-generation batteries. Recycling wind turbine blade materials to create new products. Using food and forest waste in new ways and to train workers for green jobs. Advancing energy independence and resilience for Tribal communities. Converting aging urban buildings to save money and reduce carbon emissions. Using more efficient manufacturing to improve the economics of wind energy.

These simplified snapshots offer a glimpse into the wide range of cutting edge research, development and demonstration projects awarded the latest round of $8.5 million in state Clean Energy Fund grants from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

All of the projects advance new or emerging technologies that support Washington state’s clean energy goals of reducing carbon emissions, achieving a 100% clean electricity grid, and ensuring an equitable distribution of the health and economic benefits of the clean energy economy.

“This latest round of Clean Energy Fund projects includes diverse and creative collaborations among clean technology companies, research institutions, non-profits, Tribal governments and other partners. They are keeping Washington state at the forefront of important new technologies needed to achieve state and global climate goals, and ensure a resilient economy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

“Washington’s culture of innovation and our commitment to equity are represented in these clean energy technology projects,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “This work has the potential to accelerate progress toward emissions reductions targets, foster new business growth and job opportunities, and help contribute to a healthy environment for all residents, no matter where we live, work and play.”

BattGenie (Seattle, King County) – $300,000 to repurpose and deploy retired electric bus batteries for second-life applications that will improve electric grid resiliency. The project will deploy a battery energy storage system on a site specified by Two Rivers CDC, a Native American-owned community development corporation, for backup power supply and storage.

City of Yakima (Yakima County) – $1 million to conduct a feasibility study on the research and development of new anaerobic digestion capacity for processing food waste. The city will partner with a non-profit and/or university to conduct and coordinate research, investigations, training, surveys and public education programs related to planning for anaerobic digester operations for waste management in Yakima County.

Composite Recycling Technology Center (Pt. Angeles, Clallam County) – $647,250 to develop technologies to take recycled wind-turbine blade materials and combine them with current recycling of composite materials from aircraft manufacturing. The project will focus on enabling technologies for applications in building systems, cladding and interiors to displace steel, concrete, and aluminum architectural materials, as well as for a carbon fiber marine cable product to keep plastic out of the water and prevent marine mammal entanglement in aquaculture applications.

Darrington Wood Innovation Center (Darrington, Snohomish County) – $1.5 million for demonstration of an advanced boiler system that uses wet, low-grade wood biomass. It will be the first of its kind globally to address moisture conditions present in Washington state, and will demonstrate forest management practices to maximize low-value biomass for cross laminated timber manufacturing and bioenergy feedstock.

Group14 (Seattle, King County) – $426,858 for demonstration of a silicon polymer solid state battery. New battery technologies are critical to the electrification of key sectors, the proposed next generation silicon polymer solid state battery will increase energy density, while retaining the longevity and stability seen in traditional lithium-ion batteries.

McKinstry Essention (Seattle, King County) – $755,000 for demonstration of a novel EcoDistrict configuration and associated control strategies to generate 160-degree heating water supply using commercially available air-water and water-water heat pumps on the Seattle Central College campus, with future expansion potential to serve neighboring buildings. The project will efficiently convert aging buildings to electric heat pumps without removing existing hot water coils or HVAC systems, reducing costs and contributing to Washington’s nation-leading building decarbonization goals.

Modern Electron (Monroe, Snohomish County) – $769,360 for demonstration of a pyrolysis technology to convert methane in biogas to hydrogen and a solid carbon. Pyrolysis is an emerging method for producing low-emissions hydrogen from biogas, achieving net negative greenhouse gas emissions from biogas combustion and producing solid carbon that can be used as a soil amendment and for a variety of products made with carbon black additive. Modern Electron, based in Bothell, WA, will partner with Qualco Energy, a subsidiary of Tulalip Tribe to use their current anaerobic digester, which will contribute to advancing energy independence for the Tribe.

OCOchem Inc. (Tacoma, Pierce County) – $1.5 million to develop green portable energy generators and produce electro-fuels for use at the Port of Tacoma. The project will demonstrate how recycled carbon dioxide, water and clean electricity can be converted into hydrogen fuel in a liquid carrier form that is easier, cheaper and safer to store and transport. This green energy can be used to replace the diesel-powered generators that keep refrigerated cargo containers cool while waiting to leave the port, which also benefits the surrounding community by reducing carbon emissions, airborne pollution and noise. Other statewide and global partners in the project – which has an additional $2.5 million from OCOchem, based in Richland, WA, and other investors – include Tacoma Power, Washington Maritime Blue, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Sacre-Davey Engineering, Johnston Engineering, and Det Norske Veritas.

Spokane Indian Housing Authority (Wellpinit, Stevens County) – $884,245 for research and development of a novel application of an emergency response alert system and controls for an electricity microgrid serving the Tribe’s critical facilities. The project will advance knowledge on how to strengthen energy Tribal energy independence and resilience, in addition to providing workforce training opportunities in installation and maintenance of microgrid technologies.

XFlow Energy Company (Seattle, King County) – $772,000 for development and demonstration of efficient manufacturing to minimize the levelized cost of electricity from XFlow’s 25 kW vertical axis wind turbine. This will potentially cut the lifetime cost of distributed wind generation in half compared to currently available technology, reducing electricity costs for the end user. By lowering costs, this technology would make distributed wind energy an attractive option for improving community energy resilience.

“Washington’s Clean Energy Fund provides important support that enables the acceleration of both development and commercialization of novel technology like OCOchem’s clean electrofuel production technology – ours will be a first for Washington state. OCOchem and our partners are thankful for this grant, and to be doing this work here in Washington, which has the cleanest and one of the most affordable electricity grids in the United States,” Todd Brix, CEO and co-founder of OCOchem, based in Richland, WA.

In order to support Washington’s climate policies and equity goals, criteria for awarding these grants incorporated guidelines and recommendations from the 2021 State Energy Strategy (2021 SES) and the Energy Climate Policy Advisory Committee (ECPAC).

For example, the State Energy Strategy calls for the deployment of a variety of technologies and actions to meet the state’s emissions reductions goals. And, in order to accelerate the transition to clean energy, it also embraces the development of nascent technology solutions that are not yet commercialized. Recognizing that these innovations require collaboration among small companies, research universities, national labs and other organizations, proposals demonstrating strong public-private partnerships and additional investments were strongly encouraged.

Additionally, commitment to seeing that all Washington communities and residents benefit from the clean energy transition requires incorporation of equity and environmental justice principles.  Projects that created partnerships with vulnerable communities or Tribes were prioritized.

All of these competitive grant awards are conditional upon execution of final project agreements and performance-based contracts with Commerce. These selected projects were among 48 applicants, requesting a total of more than $37.7 million, representing a wide range of technologies.

Since 2013, state Clean Energy Fund investments have helped incentivize public and private utilities and their partners to accelerate deployment of renewable energy technologies. For information on this and other Clean Energy Fund grant opportunities, visit