The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have launched a $ 2.5 million Inclusive Energy Innovation Award, which aims to pave the way for an inclusive, equitable energy future and fair.

The award is intended to fund organizations working with disadvantaged communities in the field of clean energy as well as fostering links between DOE and innovators that the agency has yet to reach.

Eligible applicants include non-profit and non-governmental organizations; state, local and tribal governments and government entities; for-profit businesses; and academic institutions with experience in supporting environmental, climate and energy justice. The award is intended to support, create and identify activities that provide incubation, acceleration and community entrepreneurship and innovation services in clean climate and energy technologies.

In addition, the DOE said the award aims to achieve five goals:

  • Enabling innovation in clean energy and climate, as well as entrepreneurship programs and capacities, in colleges and universities that serve large populations of under-represented students in STEM, institutions serving minorities, community colleges and undergraduate institutions.
  • Create or increase participation in vocational training and clean and climate-smart energy placement / recruitment, including programs that target the participation of disadvantaged communities, such as formerly incarcerated people and young people leaving the foster home.
  • Foster grassroots innovation related to the fair and equitable deployment of clean energy through activities focused on community-centric networks and bottom-up solutions for sustainable development, based on the needs of the communities concerned.
  • Identify and fund activities that will help underprivileged communities to become aware of, apply for, or obtain funding from the DOE or other federal, state, local, or private (for-profit or non-profit) funding.
  • Enable the development of reproducible clean energy transitions that deliver fair and equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities.

The DOE said teams don’t need to have any scientific or technical background to compete. In the first phase, up to 10 winners will receive an initial cash prize of up to $ 200,000 each, with the possibility of receiving additional rewards. The first phase winners will receive in-kind mentoring and other support services. During phase two, up to three teams will receive cash prizes from a $ 500,000 prize pool. The price is open to submissions for phase 1 until February 25, 2022.

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