OfficeSolar Energy Technologies Office
Funding NumberDE-FOA-0002378 and DE-TA5-0002378 (Topic 5)
Funding Amount: $39.5 million

Solar Energy Technologies Office Funding Opportunity Announcement graphic

Description

On March 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Fiscal Year 2021 Photovoltaics and Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (FY21 PV and CSP) funding program, which will provide $39.5 million for projects that will advance solar PV and CSP research and development (R&D) and help eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector.

These projects will help achieve the solar office's goal of lowering costs and expanding solar to new markets. Learn more about SETO’s goals and how to apply for a funding opportunity.

SETO expects to make about 31 to 54 awards under the SETO FY21 PV and CSP funding opportunity announcement (FOA), each ranging from $300,000 to $5 million. 

The SETO FY21 PV and CSP funding program seeks R&D projects that will enable a decarbonized electricity system by 2035 and a 100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. These projects will help reduce costs for solar technologies, enable long-duration solar energy storage, and develop technology for carbon-free industrial processes in the United States.

Topic Areas

TOPIC AREA 1: 50-Year Service Life PV Systems
$4.5 million, 1-3 projects

This topic area seeks projects that will address PV balance of systems challenges to increase useful system life to 50 years while lowering the cost of energy. These projects should aim 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 operations and maintenance schedules, and increased durability. SETO 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)
$11 million, 3-7 projects
This topic area seeks projects that advance novel solar receivers and reactors that will enable new CSP applications, including 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)
$11 million, 4-9 projects

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: CSP PERFORM AND REFORM

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

TOPIC AREA 4a: Process Enhancement and Refinement for Operations, Reliability, and Maintenance (CSP PERFORM)
$4 million, 3-6 projects

Projects in this topic area will focus on improving the reliability, operability, and productivity of systems, processes, and designs of existing CSP technologies. This topic area is intended to further 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)
$4 million, 3-6 projects

Projects in this topic area will focus on improving the design and operation of CSP plants by developing components and equipment for commercially relevant CSP systems that utilize 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: PV SIPS
$2 million, 7-10 projects

Projects in this topic area will focus on new and emerging areas of PV research that can produce significant results within the first year of performance and, if successful, lay the foundation for continued research. These projects should aim to significantly lower costs and focus on improving the power conversion efficiency, fielded energy output, reuse and recycling of system components, service lifetime, and manufacturability of PV technologies.

TOPIC AREA 5b: CSP SIPS
$3 million, 10-13 projects

Projects in this topic area will focus on innovative and novel ideas that will dramatically lower the cost of CSP technologies to produce power or industrial heat. If successful, the technology should be well positioned to move to the next stage of research and development after one year.

Webinar

SETO hosted an informational webinar on April 19, 2021, discussing the funding program and each of the topics. View the recording and download the transcript and presentation slides.

Key Dates

FOA Issue Date:  March 25, 2021
Submission Deadline for Letter of Intent: April 26, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Concept Papers (concept papers are not required for Topic Areas 5a and 5b): Topic Areas 1, 2, 3, 4a, 4b: April 27, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Informational Webinar: April 19, 2021, 3:00 p.m. ET View the recording (password: iZKTVkC3) Use Google Chrome for best results.
Submission Deadline for Full Applications: All Topic Areas: June 24, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Expected Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments: Topic Areas 1, 2, 3, 4a, 4b: July 27, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications: September 24, 2021
Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations: September 2021 - January 2022

Additional Information

Download the full funding opportunity and the Topic 5 funding opportunity on EERE Exchange.

Learn how to apply for a funding opportunity.

Read the DOE press release about this FOA.

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

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