**The U.S. Department of Energy announced selections for the funding opportunity on November 12, 2020. Read the announcement and learn more about the awards.**

Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 Funding Opportunity

OfficeSolar Energy Technologies Office
Funding Number: DE-FOA-0002243
Funding Amount: $125.5 million


On February 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 (SETO 2020) funding program, which will provide $125.5 million in funding for projects that will advance research in solar energy technologies.

These projects will help achieve the solar office’s goal of improving the affordability, reliability, and value of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more about SETO’s goals and how to apply for a funding opportunity.

SETO expects to make about 55 to 80 awards under the SETO 2020 funding opportunity announcement (FOA), each ranging from $300,000 to $39 million.

Several topic areas in this funding program encourage collaborative work to enable and accelerate outcomes. SETO seeks diverse teams comprising members of companies and community organizations, researchers, solar developers, and other stakeholders who work across various technology sectors, locations, and scientific disciplines.

To facilitate the formation of teams, SETO is providing a forum where interested parties can add themselves to a Teaming Partner List, which allows organizations that may wish to apply to the FOA but not as the prime applicant, to express interest to potential partners. The Teaming Partner List and instructions will be available on EERE Exchange under FOA DE-FOA-0002243 during the FOA application period. The list will be updated at least weekly until the close of the full-application period.

Topic Areas

TOPIC AREA 1: Photovoltaics Hardware Research
$15 million, ~8-12 projects

This topic area seeks projects that will improve the functions of photovoltaic (PV) hardware over the long term, maximizing energy yields, increasing efficiency, and improving PV system modeling to ensure reliable performance prediction. 

TOPIC AREA 2: Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Brayton Cycle Equipment Demonstration (Integrated TESTBED)
$39 million, ~1-2 projects

This topic area seeks to develop, build, and operate a supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycle integrated with thermal energy storage at temperatures ranging from 550°C to 630°C at a new or existing facility. The goal of this topic is to accelerate the commercialization of the sCO2 Brayton cycle and provide operational experience for utilities, operators, and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) developers.

TOPIC AREA 3: Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 3 (SEEDS 3)
$10 million, ~6-8 projects

This topic area will fund research programs that study how knowledge spreads throughout the solar energy ecosystem and how solar adoption interacts with other emerging energy technologies, such as energy storage. In particular, this topic will focus on understanding the large-scale dynamics of the flow of solar information. The goal is to reduce the non-hardware costs of solar energy by efficiently delivering knowledge to key stakeholders so that decisions can be made quickly and effectively in a rapidly changing energy landscape.

TOPIC AREA 4: Innovations in Manufacturing: Hardware Incubator
$14 million, ~7-9 projects

This topic seeks to fund innovative product ideas that can advance solar energy technologies by lowering costs while facilitating the secure integration of solar electricity into the nation’s energy grid. SETO has a particular interest in applications that develop impactful technologies that will support a strong U.S. solar manufacturing sector and supply chain. The goal of this topic is to de-risk new technologies, bring a prototype to a pre-commercial stage, and retire any business or market risks to spur follow-on private investments, patents, scientific and technical publications, and jobs.

TOPIC AREA 5: Systems Integration
$30 million, ~7-11 projects

This topic area will enhance solar’s ability to provide greater grid resilience and improved reliability to the nation’s electricity grid, especially at the community level. This work will improve the ability of communities to maintain power during and restore power after man-made or natural disasters, improve cybersecurity for PV inverters and power systems, and develop advanced hybrid plants that operate collaboratively with other resources for improved reliability and resilience.

TOPIC AREA 6: Solar and Agriculture: System Design, Value Frameworks, and Impacts Analysis
$6.5 million, ~4-6 projects

This topic area will build upon and expand ongoing SETO projects related to the co-location of solar and agriculture by developing technology, evaluating practices to date, and conducting research and analysis that enable farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural enterprises to gain value from solar technologies while maintaining availability of land for agricultural purposes. The goal is to facilitate and expand the co-location of solar and agricultural activities where it benefits both industries and the local community. For this topic, co-location is defined as agricultural production (i.e., crop or livestock production, or pollinator habitat) underneath solar panels and/or in adjacent zones around the solar panels.

TOPIC AREA 7: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications in Solar Energy with Emphasis on Machine Learning
$6 million, ~8-12 projects

This topic area will leverage the substantial AI-related know-how developed in the United States to develop disruptive solutions across the value chain of the solar industry. These projects will form partnerships between experts in AI and industry stakeholders such as solar power plant operators or owners, electric utilities, PV module manufacturers, and others that can supply the necessary data as well as solar-related subject matter expertise.

TOPIC AREA 8: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): PV and CSP
$5 million, ~15-20 projects

This topic area intends to fund innovative, novel ideas in PV and CSP that can produce significant results within the first year of performance. If successful, the outcomes will open up new avenues for continued study. These projects are riskier than research ideas based on established technologies and will typically receive smaller funding amounts than projects in other topic areas.

Prior to submitting a full application for topic areas 1-7 of this opportunity, a brief, mandatory letter of intent is due on March 9, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. ET. A mandatory letter of intent for topic 8 is due by April 9, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. ET. See all application deadlines in the table below.


SETO hosted a webinar on February 12, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. ET discussing the funding program and each of the topics. 

View the webinar recording. 

(The recording password is: fFmRNxe6. Use Google Chrome for the best results.)

Download the presentation slides and webinar transcript. 

Key Dates

FOA Issue Date:February 5, 2020
Submission Deadline for Mandatory Letter of Intent (LOI) for Topics 1-7:March 9, 2020
Informational Webinar: February 12, 2020 
Download the Presentation.

Submission Deadline for Concept Papers:

Applicants must submit a Concept Paper by 5:00 p.m. ET on the due date listed to be eligible to submit a Full Application.

Topic Area 8 SIPS applicants DO NOT submit a Concept Paper.

March 16, 2020
Submission Deadline for Mandatory LOI for Topic Area 8: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)April 9, 2020
Submission Deadline for Full Applications:June 18, 2020
Submission Deadline for Topic 8 SIPS Applications:June 18, 2020
Expected Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments (Topic Areas 1-7 only):July 29, 2020
Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications:Late October 2020
Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations:Late December 2020

Additional Information

Download the full funding opportunity on the EERE Exchange website.

Learn how to apply for a funding opportunity.

Read the DOE press release about this funding opportunity announcement.

For FOA-specific support, contact SETO.FOA@ee.doe.gov.

Sign up for our newsletter to stay current with the latest SETO news.