Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/18/2022

SOLAR ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES OFFICE FISCAL YEAR 2021 FUNDING PROGRAM: Photovoltaics and Concentrating Solar Power

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is being issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to invest in innovative research and development (R&D) that will drive down costs and develop next-generation technologies ready for commercialization. The office supports solar energy research, development, demonstration, and technical assistance in five areas—photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), systems integration, manufacturing and competitiveness, and soft costs—to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the electric grid.

Building a clean and equitable energy economy and addressing the climate crisis is a top priority of the Biden Administration. This FOA will advance the Biden Administration’s goals to achieve carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and to “deliver an equitable, clean energy future, and put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050” to the benefit of all Americans. The Department of Energy is committed to pushing the frontiers of science and engineering, catalyzing clean energy jobs through research, development, demonstration, and deployment, and ensuring environmental justice and inclusion of underserved communities.

The research and development (R&D) activities to be funded under this FOA will support the government-wide approach to the climate crisis by driving the innovation that can lead to the deployment of clean energy technologies, which are critical for climate protection.  

Solar energy technologies are essential to achieving a 100% clean electricity system by 2035 and a net-zero energy system by 2050. Specifically,  this FOA will help further reduce costs for solar technologies, enable long-duration storage of solar energy, and develop technology for carbon-free industrial processes in the United States. This FOA complements the office’s FY2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator Funding Program, announced in December 2020, that will support projects that enable solar to connect reliably and securely to the nation’s electric grid, while developing next-generation solar technologies and boosting U.S. solar manufacturing. In addition, SETO has several prize competitions underway that support American leadership in the clean energy economy. In sum, SETO’s support of innovative R&D will accelerate solar deployment and lower the costs to decarbonize our electricity grid.
 

Deadlines:

  • Submission Deadline for Mandatory Letter of Intent (All Topic Areas): April 26, 2021
  • Submission Deadline for Concept Papers (Topic Areas 1, 2, 3, 4): April 27, 2021
  • Submission Deadline for Full Applications: June 24, 2021
Areas of Interest

Topic Area 1: 50-Year Service Life PV Systems (PV-50)

This topic area will support research projects to address PV balance of systems challenges with the goal of increasing useful system life to 50 years while lowering the cost of energy. The aim is to improve PV system components such as inverters, connectors, cables, racks, and trackers through data analysis, sensor development for data gathering, characterization, component hardware improvements, more efficient O&M schedules, and increased durability. To achieve these goals, this topic solicits proposals for broad, multi-institution collaborations and targeted, smaller research efforts.

Topic Area 2: Scalable Outputs for Leveraging Advanced Research on Receivers & Reactors (SOLAR R&R)
This topic area will support research to advance novel solar receivers and reactors that will enable new applications for CSP systems. This includes advancing higher-temperature power towers for high-efficiency power cycles, solar reactors for thermochemical production of fuels and chemicals, or other solar process heat applications. This topic has a tiered application structure and uses risk-retirement objectives to scale up novel concepts and develop supporting information to enable commercial partnerships. 

Topic Area 3: Pumped Thermal Energy Storage (PTES)

Projects in this topic area will advance PTES technologies that can use electricity to charge thermal energy storage, either as standalone systems or integrated with CSP plants. In particular, this topic area seeks to advance key PTES components, such as compressors and heat exchangers; meet technoeconomic requirements for thermal energy storage; and prepare the innovations for manufacturing and commercialization.

Topic Area 4

This topic area seeks projects to advance technologies, training, and standards to reduce the costs of parabolic trough and power tower CSP plants. It is structured into two sections.

  • Topic Area 4a: Process Enhancement and Refinement For Operations, Reliability, and Maintenance (CSP PERFORM): Projects in Topic Area 4a will focus on improving the reliability, operability, and productivity of existing CSP technologies. Projects will develop and evaluate solutions to reliability and performance issues that have been identified in existing CSP plants. 
  • Topic Area 4b: Research in Equipment For Optimized and Reliable Machinery (CSP REFORM): Projects in Topic Area 4b will focus on improving the design and operation of CSP plants by developing components and equipment for commercially relevant CSP systems that use conventional steam Rankine power cycles.

Topic Area 5: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS) – PV and CSP

Projects in this topic area will focus on innovative and novel ideas that are riskier than those based on established technologies. SIPS have a simplified application process, designed to encourage applications from engineering and science researchers in traditionally underrepresented groups, as well as early-career researchers who have never applied or been selected for a SETO award. 

  • Topic Area 5a: SIPS PV: This topic area will support innovative and novel ideas in PV that can produce significant results within the first year of performance. Successful outcomes will open up new avenues for continued study. Projects in this topic area are riskier than research ideas based on established technologies and will typically receive smaller amounts of funding than projects in other topic areas.
  • Topic Area 5b: SIPS CSP: This topic area will support small, focused projects investigating the applicability and robustness of novel ideas in CSP. Areas of interest include all aspects of CSP plants with thermal energy storage, as well as solar-thermal process heat innovations, solar-thermal fuel systems, and pumped thermal energy storage (PTES). Broadly, ideas may fall into two categories: early-stage efforts to elevate novel science and apply that to CSP; or innovative methods of closing a technical gap or limitation in an emerging technology, concept, or component.

Eligibility Requirements

Topic Areas 1, 2, 3, 4a, and 4b: An entity may submit more than one Concept Paper and Full Application to this FOA, provided that each application describes a unique, scientifically distinct project and provided that an eligible Concept Paper was submitted for each Full Application.

Topic Areas 5a and 5b: An entity may submit more than one Full Application to this FOA, provided that each application describes a unique, scientifically distinct project.

Amount Description

EERE expects to make a total of approximately $39,500,000 of federal funding available for new awards under this FOA, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. EERE anticipates making approximately 31 to 54 awards under this FOA. EERE may issue one, multiple, or no awards. Individual awards may vary between $300,000 and $5,000,000.

Funding Type
Eligibility
Posted
4/18/2022
Deadline
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