As part of the Obama Administration's blueprint for an American economy built to last, Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $3 million available this year to support research to significantly lower the cost of solar energy. The funding will enable collaborative research teams from industry, universities and national laboratories to work together in the Energy Department's research centers including the Scientific User Facilities to develop solutions to drive down the cost of solar energy. By accelerating scientific breakthroughs, these research teams support the Department's SunShot Initiative goal to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade – creating jobs, enhancing U.S. energy security, and boosting American competitiveness in the global clean energy economy.

The past decade has seen explosive growth in global solar installations. For American companies to remain competitive in this growing market, they must continue to innovate, lowering the cost of existing products while transitioning breakthrough technologies into production. The Bridging Research Interactions through Collaborative Development Grants in Energy (BRIDGE) funding announced today will enable applied researchers to leverage the tools and expertise of scientists at DOE research facilities so that fundamental scientific discoveries can be rapidly transitioned to existing product lines and projects.

The BRIDGE program is the first within the SunShot Initiative to provide engineers and scientists developing photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies with the tools and expertise of the Department's Office of Science research facilities, including major facilities for x-ray and neutron scattering, nanoscale science, advanced microcharacterization, environmental molecular sciences, and advanced scientific computing. This collaborative approach will accelerate innovations to lower the cost of PV and CSP technologies.

Letters of intent are requested from potential applicants no later than April 25, 2012. Full applications are due May 21, 2012. For more information and application requirements for this funding opportunity announcement, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Inspired by President Kennedy's "moon shot" program that put the first man on the moon, the SunShot Initiative has created new momentum for the solar industry by highlighting the need for American competitiveness in the clean energy race.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.