Press Release: Business Leaders Discuss Energy Innovation with Congress, Administration

March 10, 2020 | Andy Barnes, Program Manager


March 9, 2020


Andy Barnes, 202-785-0507

Business Leaders on the Frontline of Energy Innovation Discuss Clean Energy Development with Agency Officials and Members of Congress

Thirty business leaders from small and midsize clean energy firms meet with lawmakers and administration officials in Washington D.C. regarding federal funding for clean energy research and improvements to R&D programs.

WASHINGTON, D.C.Thirty small business leaders from the Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN)—a group of 3,500 business leaders in all 50 states working in every part of the clean energy economy—are coming to Washington March 9-11 to highlight their energy innovations.  In meetings with federal lawmakers and their staffs, the business leaders will discuss the need to protect and grow federal funding for the U.S. Department of Energy and clean energy innovation. Participants will also meet with DOE officials to discuss their experiences partnering with the agency to develop innovative technologies.

These 30 small and medium business leaders with footprints across 26 U.S. states have all developed and commercialized innovative energy technologies with support from the Department of Energy. This event will highlight the need to promote both readily-available and emerging solutions to combat climate change, advance clean energy investment, and power America’s economy. As these business leaders gather in Washington, the U.S. Senate is debating the first comprehensive energy legislation since 2007, and the business leaders will urge lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to enact a compromise into law.

Federal investment in energy innovation supports the work of small businesses and startups that are focused on commercializing high-risk, high-reward clean energy technologies. These public-sector investments also help leverage private funding to expedite the commercialization of clean energy technology by breaking down barriers and helping bring cleaner products to the market sooner. As an example, ARPA-E has provided approximately $2 billion in R&D funding for over 800 transformational energy technology projects since 2009, which have so far leveraged more than $2.9 billion in private-sector follow-on funding.

The President’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 proposes an 8 percent cut to the Department of Energy and elimination of ARPA-E. These entrepreneurs will urge Congress to reject these cuts and continue funding and growing these critical programs.

Additionally, many of the participating businesses have received DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Technology Transfer Research (STTR) awards—frequently referred to as “America’s seed fund.” The participants will speak to the program’s success as well as how it can be improved. To date, the SBIR and STTR programs have resulted in 70,000 issued patents, close to 700 public companies, and approximately $41 billion in venture capital investments.

Participants provided the following statements ahead of their meetings in Washington:

“The Department of Energy provided $223,000 in funding in 2019 to support Sunergolab’s work to build an innovative virtual testing tool for barrier coatings used in aircraft turbine emissions.We are in Washington this week to speak with the Alabama congressional delegation about how our work will improve the efficiency of big aircraft, which are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector and have in the past 5 years added equivalent CO2 emissions to building about 50 coal-fired power plants. Federal support for energy innovation is crucial to bring technologies like those we are developing at Sunergolab  to market.”

– Alex Vasenkov, President, Sunergolab (Huntsville, AL)

“Bettergy is presently receiving funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and Department of Energy for four projects that support our energy storage and environmental technologies.  The continued robust support by Congress of the DOE’s and ARPA-E’s research funding is of critical importance to companies like ours that are working to develop innovative clean energy technologies that can enhance our nation’s energy security, improve energy efficiency and create skilled jobs in the energy sector.”

Guy Longobardo, COO, Bettergy (Peekskill, NY)

“Sunfig develops technology and software to optimize the design of community and utility-scale solar installations to generate more energy at lower costs. We’re working with the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to deploy a novel algorithm to improve the monitoring and safety of existing and future solar projects. I’m in Washington this week to urge lawmakers to continue their support for research and development focused on clean energy innovations. Partnerships like these have been critical to stimulate growth, open up new markets, and enable small businesses like ours to play meaningful roles in the industries of tomorrow.

Ashton Vandemark, CEO, Sunfig (Oakland, CA)

“Based in Madison, Wisconsin, Virent is working to commercialize its BioForming technology for the conversion of plant sugars into drop-in bio-gasoline, jet fuel and the principal building blocks for producing renewable, recyclable plastics, fibers and film. We have received a number of awards from the Department of Energy, including the Small Business Innovation Research program,and are now working towards the deployment of a large commercial biorefinery that will process up to 150,000 bushels of corn per day and support numerous local jobs. Federal support has been critical to positioning Virent so that we can simultaneously help American farmers, bring cleaner fuels from the laboratory to the pump and provide a renewable and recyclable solution for plastics.”

Dave Kettner, President and General Counsel, Virent (Madison, WI)

CEBN is proud to showcase these entrepreneurs and the impact they bring to the energy industry as a whole and to communities and economies across the nation.

Learn more about participants here


CEBN is the small business voice for the clean energy economy, working to enhance opportunities for clean energy providers through policy support, market and technology education, and business development assistance.