The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) have awarded five grants totaling $1 million to support training programs that will teach workers new welding techniques and other advanced manufacturing skills.
The majority of the funding, $750,000, will be allocated by DOE’s High-Performance Materials program to support the Advanced Welding Workforce Initiative (AWWI) and prepare a new generation of welders to manufacture and service high-temperature alloy components in electric generating stations. Such plants operate at significantly higher temperatures and pressures, which increases efficiency and lowers emissions of carbon dioxide but requires the use of superalloys that can withstand conditions much harsher than those in the older, less efficient facilities.
Demand for workers with similar skills also are needed in the region’s emerging automotive, aerospace, aviation and petrochemical industries. AWWI is part of a series of joint efforts between DOE and ARC to help Appalachia fully harness the economic and workforce potential of these industrial sectors.
The funding awards were made on their basis to connect with pressing regional needs, including expanding offerings into economically distressed areas, targeting designated Opportunity Zones and recruiting workers in long-term recovery from substance use disorder.
Selected programs and their funding amounts are:
Other DOE-ARC collaborations include the Appalachian Energy and Petrochemical Renaissance: An Examination of Economic Progress and Opportunity, a report that found petrochemical manufacturing currently in development in Appalachia is projected to attract between $16 billion and $20 billion in capital investment, and create more than 9,800 jobs directly and indirectly in Appalachia by 2025.
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory develops and commercializes advanced technologies that provide clean energy while safeguarding the environment. NETL’s work supports DOE’s mission to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy and environmental challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.