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The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 (SETO 2020) funding program supports projects that will improve the affordability, reliability, and value of solar technologies on the U.S. grid and tackle emerging challenges in the solar industry. This program funds projects that advance early-stage photovoltaic, concentrating solar-thermal power, and systems integration technologies, and reduce the non-hardware costs associated with installing solar energy systems.

On February 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $130 million in funding for 55-80 projects in this program. Six of these projects will receive a total of $9.7 million to improve the flow of information to solar stakeholders.

Approach

These projects will identify sectors of the solar energy market, as well as adjacent fields, where knowledge flows can be mapped and categorized to understand how they can be improved; define metrics or methods to optimize productive knowledge flows; and identify bottlenecks or barriers. They will also study how solar adoption interacts with other emerging energy technologies, such as energy storage, including behavioral impacts associated with co-adoption and the value of combined systems.

Objectives

The goal of these projects is to better understand the large-scale dynamics of the flow of solar information. Doing so will enable the efficient delivery of knowledge to key stakeholders so decisions can be made quickly and effectively. As a result, these projects may reduce the non-hardware costs of solar energy.

Selectees

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations –

Clean Energy States Alliance

Project Name: Effective Knowledge Dissemination for LMI Solar: The Roles of Community Organizations and State Governments
Location: Montpelier, VT
DOE Award Amount: $1,100,000
Awardee Cost Share: $270,000
Principal Investigator: Warren Leon
Project Summary: This project will identify ways that state energy agencies and community organizations can efficiently and effectively work together to reduce the cost of expanding access to solar by studying knowledge dissemination and collaboration practices in these partnerships. This project will also develop case studies of successful state/community collaborations and provide technical assistance to community organizations and state energy agencies trying to work together to increase solar access.

Electric Power Research Institute

Project Name: Customer Options Landscape: Opportunities for Co-Adoption and Technology Evolution of Distributed Energy Resources (CO-LOCATED)
Location: Palo Alto, CA
DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $500,000
Principal Investigator: Nadav Enbar
Project Summary: This project is examining how residential and commercial utility customers make decisions related to the co-adoption of solar power with other technologies, such as electric vehicles and energy storage. Using utility and survey data, the team will identify what drives customer decisions about co-adoption and assess the cost efficiencies and value of co-adoption to consumers. This data will be integrated into NREL’s open source agent-based adoption forecasting tool, dGen, which can be used by utilities, grid operators, and other stakeholders to better incorporate solar energy in integrated resources planning and grid reliability planning.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Project Name: Incorporating Solar Panels into the Ecosystem of Whole Home Re-roofing and New Construction Projects
Location: Golden, CO
DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $690,000
Principal Investigator: Ben Sigrin
Project Summary: Previous analysis indicates that installing rooftop solar during new construction or re-roofing could lower soft costs by as much as 73% compared to typical rooftop installation, but these have yet to become widespread. This project is identifying the barriers to these types of solar installation. The team will identify knowledge gaps of home builders, roofers, and consumers about solar in new construction and re-roofing and test strategies for disseminating information about the topic.

University of Delaware

Project Name: Solar Rooftop PV and Residential Co-Adoption and Diffusion at the Intersection of Attitudes, Economics, Norms, and Policy Nudges
Location: Newark, DE
DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $500,000
Principal Investigator: Jeremy Firestone
Project Summary: This project is researching the decision-making of photovoltaic (PV) adopters, electric vehicle (EV) adopters and PV/EV co-adopters. This project will identify possible drivers of co-adoption, such as whether providing certain information about solar and electric vehicles impacts the decision to co-adopt. Then, the team will evaluate these potential drivers. This research will lead to a large, first-of-its-kind national dataset of PV-EV co-adopters and factors that facilitate or hinder co-adoption.

University of Michigan

Project Name: Mapping and Bridging Barriers in Knowledge Flows of How Solar Photovoltaics Affect Rural Community Economies
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
DOE Award Amount: $1,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $280,000
Principal Investigator: Michael Craig
Project Summary: Rural counties do not necessarily include utility-scale solar in their zoning rules, which can cause delays and increase soft costs for solar developers. This project researches how rural communities in the Great Lakes region learn about and decide whether to zone for utility-scale solar. This project will also test various information dissemination strategies and study the impact of utility-scale solar on the economies of rural areas.

Yale University

Project Name: Patterns and Value of Co-Adoption of Solar and Related Energy Technologies
Location: New Haven, CT
DOE Award Amount: $1,600,000
Awardee Cost Share: $410,000
Principal Investigator: Kenneth Gillingham
Project Summary: This project will conduct two field trials to study the combined adoption of solar and other energy technologies, such as energy storage and electric vehicles. The field trial in Alaska will study the connection between energy efficiency audits and solar energy adoption. The field trial in Connecticut will study adoption patterns of residential solar and behind-the-meter energy storage and the value they add to the grid. The team will also examine the effect of this adoption on residential energy use and whether there is any change when electric vehicles are also involved.

Learn more about the SETO 2020 funding program and the project selections in the other topics.

Learn more about SETO’s other competitive awards.