Energy Asset Transformation

The mission of the Energy Asset Transformation Program is to leverage and transform legacy energy assets into high-value, clean energy assets such as energy storage facilities, renewable or hybrid facilities, hydrogen plants, clean manufacturing facilities, and community spaces. These efforts represent some of the most promising opportunities to unite private sector and energy community interests in places where employment and opportunity is on the decline. Transforming these existing energy assets to clean energy and manufacturing uses is essential to address climate change and achieve a sustainable future. These transformations will require technological advancements, as well as careful integration of workforce, environmental, social justice, and safety considerations.

Energy Graph

Legacy energy assets can be transformed into high-value opportunities ranging from energy storage sites, industrial and manufacturing facilities, power generation sources, to spaces to support and bolster communities. These legacy energy asset sites may offer access to a skilled workforce with knowledge of industrial operations, community relationships, access to transportation (rail lines, ports, waterways, highways), transmission and distribution infrastructure, electrical interconnect equipment and direct grid connections, and potentially existing site and permitting licenses, among other assets.

As innovative clean energy and manufacturing companies fan out across the country, it increasingly makes sense for the companies to choose locations in existing energy communities. For energy communities, transforming energy assets can provide a variety of both short-term and permanent family-wage jobs, opportunities for worker retraining programs, access to local work that does not require relocation, and opportunities to work in cutting-edge technology sectors. Importantly, transforming energy assets allows communities to claim control of their own narratives and become active participants in the energy transition. Additionally, many of these communities maintain a workforce that has knowledge of the industrial operations and community relationships that will be paramount to utilizing these assets.

The Energy Asset Transformation Program is conducting targeted experimental studies to advance high-impact, clean energy technologies, including clean energy storage, and is developing case studies of legacy energy assets across the United States that are being transformed. The program will fund concept development followed by pre-front-end engineering design (pre-FEED) studies where the legacy assets can be transformed to use or store other sources of clean energy, such as solar, geothermal, wind, and nuclear sources, and the existing energy asset can be repurposed. The case studies and the pre-FEED work will serve as powerful examples for other communities to emulate and transition in a phased and methodical manner to achieve clean energy goals and in support of local communities.

Near-Term Focus Areas

Environmental Performance – The program seeks to promote and increase renewable energy penetration.

Asset Flexibility – The program will determine how and where to best transform or repurpose existing energy assets into new assets that support the clean energy transition.

Energy Storage and Grid Reliability – The power grid must remain resilient and reliable through the transition to clean energy. Methods of providing such reliability, such as repurposing mine tailing sites into solar arrays with battery storage are being evaluated.

Community Building – The program aims to develop and implement solutions, for example, through direct employment during and after legacy energy assets are transformed, that ensure that legacy energy communities have a prosperous path forward.

Current Challenges to Overcome

  • De-risking and accelerating the expansion of new clean energy assets (-> one example way this could be achieved is by identifying situations where transforming existing energy assets into clean energy assets requires less capital investment compared to cases where existing energy assets cannot be leveraged).

  • Identifying and implementing effective ways to support local communities impacted by the clean energy transition.

NETL implements this effort as part of DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management