Bill includes $1M for clean energy tech research at UMass

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. Submitted Photo

Staff Writer
Thursday, July 05, 2018

AMHERST — Research into emerging clean energy technologies, including work already taking place in laboratories at the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts, could benefit from $1 million included in an environmental bond bill recently adopted by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, I-Amherst, said June 24 that the $1 million comes from two of the seven amendments he filed that are aimed at solving climate change, including research and pre-commercialization activities in clean energy.

“I’m quite satisfied that leadership included these quite significant requests,” Goldstein-Rose said.

The first, for $500,000, would go toward carbon-neutral fuels research, much of which is taking place at the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass-Amherst. Carbon-neutral fuels could replace traditional gasoline and greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced quickly through a transition to this new power source, Goldstein-Rose said.

The second amendment, also for $500,000, would assist with the development of better component materials that could reduce the cost to create what are known as liquid-flow batteries. Research into this emerging technology is happening at the UMass-Lowell campus.

Goldstein-Rose said these batteries are promising for grid-scale energy storage.

“If we could help a liquid-flow battery industry scale up quickly in Massachusetts, the costs would likely come down to be the cheapest grid-scale battery option, and we would be the center of that new industry,” Goldstein-Rose said.

The funding for the amendments is dependent on the Senate approving the contents of the bond bill and then Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration deciding to release the money. Goldstein-Rose said he hopes researchers will be able to make appeals for the money so their work can advance.

“All of these projects are systemically underfunded globally,” Goldstein-Rose said.

Goldstein-Rose said the fact that two of his seven amendments were placed in the bill by leadership illustrates that his departure from the Democratic party earlier this year doesn’t mean a loss of his influence. He will face a general election challenge in November for the 3rd Hampshire District, which includes Amherst, Pelham and Precinct 1 in Granby, from either Mindy Domb or Eric Nakajima, who are seeking the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 4 primary.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.