State Clean Energy Efforts Receive Notable Financial Boost

Louisiana energy partnership wins “largest grant ever” from National Science Foundation

A statewide effort to hasten the state’s transition to cleaner energy production has won the “largest and most competitive grant ever awarded” by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Focused on the energy transition and decarbonization of Louisiana’s industrial corridor, the NSF grant could add up to $160 million over the next 10 years.

The project is led by Louisiana State University along with more than 50 public and private partners. Economic development nonprofit GNO, Inc., supported the grant application process and is celebrating the news.

The NSF Engines grant is designed to “support Louisiana’s energy industry, create jobs in the energy sector, develop innovative solutions to energy challenges and help train the world’s energy workforce,” said a GNO, Inc., spokesperson. The goal is to capitalize on the state’s existing energy, chemical and petrochemical workforce and infrastructure to become the country’s “epicenter of energy transition.” Officials estimate the state has 250,000 people working in related industries.

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The NSF announced the award at a Jan. 29 press conference in Washington, D.C.

“This award builds on the foundation created by the GNO, Inc.-led H2theFuture initiative, which positioned Louisiana as the nation’s leading location for a hydrogen evolution, and a model destination for coalition building,” said Michael Hecht, GNO, Inc., president and CEO, in a press release. “We are looking forward to working alongside LSU, who led this application, and our partners across south Louisiana to advance an all-of-the-above energy future.”

The Louisiana team — dubbed Future Use of Energy in Louisiana, or FUEL — includes private energy companies, universities, community and technical colleges, and state agencies. The partners said they plan to work together to “drive technology and workforce development in support of Louisiana’s energy industry.” FUEL partners include the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Greater New Orleans Inc., ExxonMobil, Shell and Baker Hughes.

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Areas of focus will include carbon capture, transport and storage; hydrogen generation; production of low-carbon fuels and products; water use and management; sustainable manufacturing; and policy development.

The state, through Louisiana Economic Development, has pledged an additional $67.5 million to the project over the next decade. This will include research funds for higher education partners.

“Leading the FUEL team and being selected for this transformational grant affirms what we already knew — that LSU is one of the nation’s premier research universities, poised to change the lives of the people of Louisiana and the world,” said LSU President William F. Tate IV. “By teaming up with our partners across the state in education, industry and government, we are leveraging the intellectual capital of our state’s best and brightest to make a difference for the energy industry and for the people of every parish in Louisiana.”

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The NSF chose 16 finalists out of more than 700 concepts.

“The inaugural NSF Engines awards demonstrate our enduring commitment to create opportunity everywhere and enable innovation anywhere,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

GNO, Inc., said this win for Louisiana is the “latest transformative federal investment to lead energy transition for the nation.” Last month, the Economic Development Administration named an LSU-led consortium one of 31 national Tech Hubs charged with revitalizing American manufacturing, creating jobs and strengthening U.S. economic and national security within a decade.

Rich Collins is an Emmy Award-winning writer, musician and actor known for the Disney Channel TV series “Imagination Movers.” He covers New Orleans business for the Biz New Orleans website when he’s not performing on stages around town and worldwide.


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