Funding Number: DE-FOA-0002243

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) intends to release a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to promote early-stage research and development of solar technologies that support use and integration of solar technologies onto the electric grid.

Potential areas of interest:

Photovoltaics Hardware Research
Projects in this potential topic area will improve the functions of photovoltaics (PV) hardware over the long term, maximizing energy yields, increasing efficiency, and improving PV system modeling to ensure reliable performance prediction.

Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Brayton Cycle Equipment Demonstration (Integrated TESTBED)
Projects in this potential topic area will seek to develop, build, and operate a supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycle integrated with thermal energy storage at temperatures in the range of 550 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 CSP developers.

Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 3 (SEEDS 3)
This potential topic area will fund research programs that study how knowledge spreads throughout the solar energy ecosystem and how solar adoption interacts with emerging 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.

Innovations in Manufacturing: Hardware Incubator
This potential 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 innovative and 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 them to a prototype to a pre-commercial stage, and retire any business or market risks in order to spur follow-on private investment, patents, scientific and technical publications, and jobs.

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

Solar and Agriculture: System Design, Value Frameworks, and Impacts Analysis
This potential topic area will build upon 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. 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.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications in Solar Energy with Emphasis on Machine Learning
This potential topic area will leverage the substantial AI-related know-how developed in the U.S. 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.

Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): PV and CSP    
This potential topic area intends to fund innovative and 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. Projects in this topic area are riskier than research ideas based on established technologies and will typically receive smaller amounts of funding than projects in other topic areas.

Download the full notice of intent here, which includes more information on the topic areas. The FOA is expected to be released in January 2020. All of the information in the notice is subject to change. You can also learn more about how to apply for funding.

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