The US Dept. of Energy announced its plan Nov. 4 to parcel out $1.5 billion to upgrade the network of national laboratories that it manages, including funds for cutting-edge technological tools and for some facilities that house them.

DOE said some new funds from the just enacted Inflation Reduction Act will go for major equipment projects in areas such as high-energy physics, fusion energy, nuclear physics and science laboratories, while other portions will underwrite construction and lab facility upgrades.

Signed into law on Aug. 16, the legislation contains the largest federal funding injection in U.S. history for addressing the effects of climate change, said John Podesta, White House senior adviser for senior adviser for clean energy innovation and implementation.

The White House said in a fact sheet that the new funding will provide “a long overdue boost” for DOE’s national labs, with some funds to be used to “build and upgrade scientific facilities, modernize their infrastructure and tackle deferred maintenance projects.”

The administration intends that the labs will play a major part in clean-energy and climate-related work. 

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the new Aurora supercomputer, located at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, "will be able to model the impacts of climate change on communities." Appearing with Granholm at a lab event to announce the funding, Podesta said that without innovations and discoveries at the national laboratories, "clean energy technologies like wind, solar and batteries would be more expensive or they wouldn't exist at all."

[View DOE Live Stream of funding announcement at Argonne National Lab here]

As part of what the White House called its “net-zero game changers initiative,” the administration also announced five research priorities for the labs: efficient building heating and cooling, net-zero aviation, net-zero power grid and electrification and industrial products and fuels for a net-zero economy. 

Top Five Funding Recipients

In all, 13 of the 17 national labs will share the climate bill money, the White House and Granholm said. 

The largest allocation is $490.9 million to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The second-largest allotment is $259.4 million to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in Batavia, Ill. 

Also on the list are: $196.6 million to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.; $190.9 million to the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y.; and $135.8 million to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory—formerly the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center—in Stanford, Calif.

The funds will help finance multiple projects at each site.

Senate Energy and National Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a statement that the funds “will help pay for needed repairs as well as invest in new construction of cutting-edge facilities.”

The statement added that funding will “accelerate ongoing facility upgrade projects and national lab infrastructure projects.”