Department of Energy

Department of Energy Announces $20 Million in New Projects to Lower Cost of Power Electronics in Solar Energy Systems

April 18, 2018

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Promising Hardware Innovations Aim to Reduce Solar System Costs In Half By 2030

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy(DOE) announced up to $20 million in funding for nine projects to advance early-stage solar power electronics technologies. These innovations are critical to address solar photovoltaic (PV) reliability challenges, as well as to drive down the cost of installing and maintaining a PV solar system. These innovations will help achieve DOE’s goal to cut the cost of electricity for a solar system in half by 2030.

Power electronics are used to convert electricity from one form to another. As the critical link between PV arrays and the electric grid, advances in power electronics can also help grid operators rapidly detect and respond to problems, protect against physical and cyber vulnerabilities, and enable consumers to manage electricity use. Advanced solar power electronics can also help deliver power safely, integrate PV with storage controls, and ensure power reliability.

“There is remarkable potential for power electronics technologies to improve the reliability and flexibility of solar energy on the grid,” said Daniel Simmons, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These projects represent a critical step in exploring the potential grid services such advanced technologies can provide.”

The nine projects in Power Electronics include:

  • Flex Power Control, Inc. – Encino, California

  • Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, Georgia.

  • North Carolina State University – Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Oak Ridge, Tennessee

  • University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, Arkansas

  • University of Maryland, College Park – College Park, Maryland

  • University of Texas at Austin – Austin, Texas

  • University of Washington – Seattle, Washington

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – Blacksburg, Virginia

Each project must meet a 20 percent cost share requirement and will last up to a three-years, enabling teams to significantly improve on innovative concepts throughout the project period. These awards are cooperative agreements – rather than grants – which involve substantial federal oversight and include go or no-go technical milestones that help ensure taxpayer value and return.

Learn more about the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office HERE.