Office of Science Supports the DOE'S Energy Earthshots

As the lead Federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy, the Office of Science (SC) supports the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Earthshots with foundational and use-inspired science.

The climate crisis calls for a different kind of Moonshot. DOE’s Energy Earthshots TM are the frontiers of the clean energy transition. They are goals in key next-generation clean energy technologies designed to drive integrated program development across DOE to address tough technological challenges and cost hurdles, and rapidly advance solutions to help achieve our climate and economic competitiveness goals. These efforts seek to revolutionize many sectors across the U.S. and will rely on fundamental science and innovative technology to be successful.

There are 8 DOE Energy Earthshots:

What Role Does SC Play in the Energy Earthshots?

SC supports the Energy Earthshots through fundamental, basic research and use-inspired science in areas that underpin the energy sciences, like mathematical, chemical, physical, and biological sciences. There are three primary SC program offices supporting the Energy Earthshots:

  • Advanced Scientific Computing Research
  • Basic Energy Sciences
  • Biological and Environmental Research

SC has an important role to play in the Energy Earthshots. For the past 50+ years, SC programs, through funded research at universities and National Labs, have laid the groundwork for some of the core technologies that will help us meet our climate and Energy Earthshot goals. From improving batteries to developing LEDs, smart windows, superconducting materials, and more, we can set ambitious targets now due to SC’s past investments in fundamental research.

Our Energy Earthshot solutions start with science. Basic research questions underpin many of the Energy Earthshot challenges, and as we push the boundaries of scientific knowledge to meet our goals, new and exciting basic science questions will arise and drive innovation. From optimization of floating offshore wind platforms to evaluating earth-abundant catalytic materials for industrial processes, use-inspired research informs almost all the challenges we face. The Office of Science is working to develop solutions for the scientific challenges underlying the 2035 Energy Earthshots goals.

But what comes after 2035? SC is planning for tomorrow and building the foundation for the future. As we work to meet our 2050 climate and Energy Earthshot goals, we will encounter scientific challenges and obstacles that we can’t predict. And while there is no roadmap for discovery science, we do know where to start. Experts in our fundamental science programs identify the ever-evolving gaps in scientific knowledge and work to fill those gaps, which will help us prepare to address future technical hurdles. By working with the scientific community, SC identifies the highest priority fundamental scientific knowledge gaps and funds peer-reviewed research to address them. The basic science community is composed of explorers with unique skills who are addressing the current state of knowledge as they observe new phenomena and ask important new questions.

To face these current and future challenges, in 2023, SC launched the SC Energy Earthshots initiative, which includes support for basic research for the first six Energy Earthshots (launched before 2023) through two complementary mechanisms: the Energy Earthshot Research Centers (EERCs) and the Science Foundations for the Energy Earthshots.

  • The Energy Earthshot Research Centers (EERCs) bring together multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary teams to address key basic research challenges for the six initial Energy Earthshots, with each Center focused on one of the Energy Earthshots. The scientific knowledge gained should impact research and development efforts currently of interest to the Department’s energy technology offices.
  • The Science Foundations for the Energy Earthshots brings together small teams focused on the crosscutting scientific challenges addressing multiple Energy Earthshots. Research will support basic science to seed innovations or to provide the scientific understanding to support existing technology development pathways for the needed portfolio of Energy Earthshot solutions.