DoE announces $125.5 million in solar research funding


The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $125.5 million in new funding to advance solar technology research.

DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 Funding Programme (SETO 2020) will help to continue the steady decline in solar costs.

In addition, projects will tackle key emerging challenges facing the solar industry, including integrating solar and storage, enhancing cybersecurity protections, manufacturing, developing solar-powered microgrids and siting solar with agriculture.

 “Solar energy has grown tremendously in the last decade,” said US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “The research and development supported by this investment will build on the technological foundations necessary to continue the solar industry’s growth and preserve American energy choice, independence, and security.

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“These investments directly support the Trump Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

Funding will support advancements in the following areas:

  • Photovoltaics (PV) Hardware Research – $15 million for 8-12 projects that aim to extend PV system lifetimes and reduce hardware costs of solar systems made of silicon solar cells, as well as new technologies like thin-film, tandem, and perovskite solar cells.
  • Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Brayton Cycle Equipment Demonstration (Integrated TESTBED) – $39 million for 1-2 projects that will develop a test site to accelerate the commercialization of supercritical carbon dioxide power cycles, a key component of low-cost concentrating solar power plants.
  • Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 3 (SEEDS 3) – $10 million for 6-8 projects that will examine how information flows to stakeholders to enable more efficient decision-making about solar and other emerging technologies, such as energy storage.
  • Innovations in Manufacturing: Hardware Incubator – $14 million for 7-9 projects that will advance innovative product ideas from a prototype to a pre-commercial stage, with an aim for products that support a strong U.S. solar manufacturing sector and supply chain.
  • Systems Integration –  $30 million for 7-11 projects that will develop resilient community microgrids to maintain power during and restore power after man-made or natural disasters, improve cybersecurity for PV inverters and power systems, and develop advanced hybrid plants that operate collaboratively with other resources for improved reliability and resilience.
  • Solar and Agriculture: System Design, Value Frameworks, and Impacts Analysis – $6.5 million for 4-6 projects that will advance the technologies, research, and practices necessary for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural enterprises to co-locate solar and agriculture.
  • Artificial Intelligence Applications in Solar Energy with Emphasis on Machine Learning – $6 million for 8-12 projects that encourage partnerships between experts in AI and solar industry stakeholders to develop disruptive solutions across the value chain of the solar industry.
  • Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): PV and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) – $5 million for 15-20 projects that advance innovative and novel ideas in PV and CSP that can produce significant results within the first year of performance. 

“The Trump Administration continues to expeditiously announce funding opportunities for the growing demand for clean and renewable technologies on the grid,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes.

“Progress made in cybersecurity and grid integration build on previous FOAs, and including new topics to help the agriculture community and folding in AI technologies and machine learning, only help bolster the need for solar technologies now, and in the future.” 

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