University of Southern California


DE-FOA-002544 Enable Fuels from Sunlight

Slots:                                                     1

Internal Deadline:                           First-come, first-served

Pre-Application:                              March 24, 2020

External Deadline:                          May 27, 2020

Award Information:                        Type: Cooperative Agreement/Interagency Agreement/Field Work Authorization

Estimated Number of Awards: 2

Anticipated Amount: $20,000,000 annually for up to 5 years.


Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:


Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                      

Who May Serve as PI:                    Individuals with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as a PI are invited to work with their organizations to develop an application for assistance. Individuals from underrepresented groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for assistance.


This FOA will support new Fuels from Sunlight Hubs to advance fundamental knowledge for solar fuels production via artificial photosynthesis approaches. While several approaches could potentially enable fuel production using sunlight as the only energy input, this FOA focuses solely on artificial photosynthesis approaches – the direct use of sunlight, water, and abundant feedstocks for liquid fuel production. These new projects, coupled with a robust core research portfolio stewarded by the individual BES programs, will create the scientific foundation needed to advance solar fuels generation, resulting in public benefits for national security, economic competitiveness, and leadership in scientific discovery. Proposed research should address the highest scientific priorities in this area and build on all advances in solar energy capture and conversion, including accomplishments resulting from BES core programs, EFRCs, and JCAP. Applications for this FOA will be required to address the priority research opportunities (PROs) denoted by the 2019 Liquid Solar Fuels Roundtable at

Proposed efforts should assemble the most talented scientists to conduct coordinated, collaborative, and highly interdisciplinary fundamental research to tackle scientific challenges for generating liquid solar fuels. Applications submitted to this FOA may request support in the range from $10M to $20M per year.


Budgetary Requirements:

Section 988(b) of EPAct 2005 requires not less than 20 percent cost sharing from non-Federal sources for research and development (R&D) activity, but allows for an exclusion from this requirement for R&D activities “of a basic or fundamental nature, as determined by the appropriate officer of the Department,” and also allows a reduction or elimination of the requirement for R&D activities of an applied nature, “if the Secretary determines that the reduction is necessary and appropriate.”

An exclusion from the cost sharing requirement for basic and fundamental research and a waiver to eliminate the cost sharing requirement for applied research funded under this FOA is in process for all non-Federal entities except for-profit entities. If granted, cost-sharing will not be required for basic and applied research awarded under this FOA, except to for-profit entities. For-profit entities, whether prime recipients (lead organizations) or subawardees (team members), would be required to provide not less than 20% cost share for both basic and applied R&D activities. This cost share would be based on the portion of the total budget proposed by each for-profit entity and would be required to be not less than 20% of the total allowable R&D costs of that entity. Applicants would have to include any required cost share in their proposed budgets, as applicable. Non-federal sources must provide all cost shared funding unless otherwise permitted by law. Cost sharing amounts proposed in the budget are subject to validation during the period of performance and/or during closeout of the award.

An amendment will be issued to this FOA to finalize any cost share requirements after a determination has been issued on the waiver. Additionally, demonstrations of institutional or third-party commitment to the proposed activity, as described in Section IV.D., Appendix 12, are strongly encouraged for applications.

Examples of non-Federal contributions that may be considered as demonstrating institutional or third-party commitment include, but are not limited to, the following:


The institutional commitment is not to be documented on the application’s budget: It is not a formal cost sharing, but it must be described in Appendix 12.

Cost sharing and Institutional commitments may not include the following:


Additionally, cost sharing may be required under a potential class patent waiver, if applicable, as discussed in Section VIII.G.


Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.