Supporting small business solar innovations


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs encourage U.S. small businesses to engage in high-risk, innovative research and technology development with the potential for future commercialization. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science administers the programs and awards projects in technology areas across the entire department. They are part of the larger SBIR program across the federal government, which is administered by the Small Business Administration. Learn more about these programs’ past awards selected by the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO).

On December 12, 2022, DOE released new funding for the SBIR/STTR program. Phase I awards are up to $200,000 for six months to one year. Details on the topics for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Phase I release of the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) are below.

Prior to submitting a full application, a mandatory letter of intent is due on January 3, 2023 at 5 p.m. ET

Topics open to both SBIR and STTR applications:

SETO seeks solutions in the following subtopics:

  • Wide-Bandgap Power Electronics – proposals for the development of the next generation of power-electronic systems for the solar industry that integrate solar generation with energy storage and/or electric vehicle charging.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) Recycling technologies that can improve the overall recyclability and refurbishment of PV modules and/or other hardware or balance-of-system components of a solar system.
  • Solar Systems Resilient to Weather-related or Cyber Threats proposals to improve the ability of solar assets or electronic devices associated with solar energy generation (such as inverters, direct current (DC)-DC optimizers, and smart meters) and systems to quickly recover in response to weather-related or cyber threats.
  • Heliostat Components and Systems for Low-Cost, Autonomous, and High-Concentration Solar Collectors proposals for the design of heliostat components to support SETO’s goals of low-cost solar-thermal energy for both high-temperature industrial process heating, as well as high-efficiency electricity production, coupled with thermal energy storage. 
  • Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (CSP) Technologies for Gen3 CSP or Industrial Decarbonization – development of CSP technologies, components, systems, and materials relevant to either low-cost electricity production or the decarbonization of industrial thermal processes.
  • Solar Hardware and Software Technologies: Affordability, Reliability, Performance, and Manufacturing – solutions that can advance solar energy technologies by lowering costs and facilitating the secure integration into the nation’s energy grid.

Topic open only to STTR applications: 

This FOA also includes a subtopic where a strong partnership with a research institution is required:

  • Transferring Novel Solar Technologies from Research Laboratories to the Market – spinning out solutions from research institutions, such as universities and national laboratories.

Technical and Business Assistance (TABA)

We encourage applicants to apply for the Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) program, which provides funding for commercialization activities in addition to the STTR research funding. Examples of allowable commercialization services include: product sales, intellectual property protections, market research, market validation, development of certifications and regulatory plans, development of manufacturing plans. If you wish to utilize your own TABA provider(s), you are required to include this as one or more subcontracts or consultants in your budget and to provide a detailed budget justification. Please read the FOA for more information about this program and how to apply for this extra funding.

The American-Made Network is a great resource for finding TABA providers and vendors with specific expertise in the solar space. The Network helps accelerate solar innovations through a diverse and powerful group of entities that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, investors, prototyping and testing facilities, and other industry partners from across the United States who engage, connect, mentor, and amplify the efforts of small businesses. The Network can help companies solve pressing technology challenges, forge connections, and advance potentially game-changing ideas and innovations.

Applicant Education Services

Is this your first time considering a SBIR/STTR application, or do you have questions about the process? SETO, through the American-Made Network, is providing free Applicant Education Services. You can email the following points of contact for more details.

Register for upcoming education webinars and watch past webinar office hour recordings.

Participation is not mandatory and will have no impact on the evaluation of your application by DOE.

Email with any questions.

Key Dates

Topics Issue Date:

November 7, 2022

FOA Issue Date:

December 12, 2022

Deadline for Mandatory Letter of Intent:

January 3, 2023, 5:00 p.m. ET

Deadline for Full Applications:

February 23, 2023, 11:59 p.m. ET

Expected Date for Selection Notifications:

May 15, 2023

Additional Information

View the full funding opportunity announcement.

Download the full topic document.

Watch a recording of the informational webinar (password: 9fZV3g3p) and download the presentation.

Learn more about SETO’s manufacturing and competitiveness research, sign up for our newsletter, and join the DOE SBIR/STTR mailing list to keep up to date with the latest news.

Questions and Answers

Subtopic 15a

Q. Is this topic related to solar specifically or are battery-related applications also accepted?

A. The topic relates primarily to WBG power electronics for solar applications. It does include power electronics for hybrid systems that combine solar with energy storage, but the applications have to show relevance to the mission of the Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Q. Does this topic support only component development or could it support materials/manufacturing improvements of foundational materials (i.e., GaN or SiC cost-downs)?

A. The subtopic focuses on power electronic applications to solar systems that utilize wide-bandgap semiconductors.

Subtopic 15b

Q. For recycling, are you interested in recycling that does not necessarily recover/reclaim the valuable elements?  Specifically re-purposing/re-using?

A. Methods for effective refurbishing of PV modules and system components that facilitate the market for refurbished modules is of interest to this subtopic. However, resale platforms or software/web platforms that facilitate a secondhand hardware market are NOT of interest to this subtopic.

Subtopic 15e

Q. Are technologies that support both heat and power considered?

A. Yes, as long as they are relevant to the mission of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Subtopic 15f

Q. Is solar panel diagnosis technique a fit?

A. Yes.