DOE Awards $145 Million for Next-Generation Solar

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced over $145 million for projects to help shape the next generation of solar energy technologies through the agency’s Sunshot Initiative.

The SunShot Initiative seeks to reduce the cost of solar systems 75% by the end of this decade, to make the industry cost-competitive without long-term subsidies.

DOE selected 69 projects in 24 states to accelerate R&D that can increase efficiency, lower costs and advance cutting-edge solar technologies.

Some of the investments also support efforts to shorten the overall timeline from prototype to production and streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules, and business processes for installing solar energy systems.

The six categories of projects announced today are:

Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reductions – Nine projects to receive $42 million.

These projects will develop new balance of system hardware and solar system components – such as  power inverters and mounting racks – to make them inexpensive, safe, and highly reliable.

These components account for over 40% of the total installed cost of solar systems and thus offers a major opportunity to achieve significant cost reductions.

Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency – 18 projects to receive $35.8 million.

Combining the technical and funding resources of the DOE and National Science Foundation, this joint program supports research to eliminate the significant gap between prototype solar cell efficiencies achieved in the lab and those experienced on manufacturing lines.

Projects will address cost and efficiency barriers, advance fundamental PV cell research, and develop materials and processes for more efficient, cost-effective photovoltaic cells.

Solar Grid Integration Systems: Advanced Concepts – Eight projects to receive $25.9 million.

These projects will develop electronics and build smarter, more interactive systems and components to more easily integrate solar into the grid.

The technologies will advance a smart grid that handles two-way flows of power and communication, in contrast to the one-way flow and limited communication that exists today.

Transformational PV Science and Technology: Next Generation Photovoltaics II – 23 projects to receive $22.2 million.

These awards will fund applied research into technologies that greatly increase efficiency, lower costs, create secure and sustainable supply chains and perform more reliably than current PV technologies.

Investing in new classes of photovoltaic technology feeds the industry with the new innovations it will need to compete in the future and will help achieve the goals of the Sunshot Initiative.

Reducing Market Barriers and Non-Hardware Balance of System Costs – Seven projects to receive $13.6 million.

Projects will create tools and develop methods to reduce the cost of non-hardware components for installed solar systems.

They will develop software design tools and databases that can be used by local jurisdictions and installers, and tools to streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules, and business processes for installing solar systems.

SunShot Incubator – Four projects to receive $5.8 million.

These projects will fund two different tiers of transformational projects. The first accelerates development of new technologies from concept to commercial viability. The second level of funding supports efforts that shorten the overall timeline from laboratory scale development to pilot line manufacture.

The SunShot Incubator Program is an expansion of DOE’s PV Technology Incubator Program, launched in 2007, which to date has funded $60 million in projects that have been leveraged into $1.3 billion in private investment.

Read our other coverage of Sunshot:

SUNPATH Gives US Solar Manufacturing a Lift

733MW Solar Project Amp

DOE Funds Cities, Counties to Digitize, Streamline Solar Permits

Streamlining Solar Technology

View the full list of award by project category:

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