DOE gives funding to advance solar tech

The US Department of Energy (DOE) says it is investing up to $ 45 million in research to drive the integration of solar hardware and systems – including creating a consortium dedicated to developing control technologies for a modernized power grid.

While solar power accounts for 3% of US electricity, that amount is projected to reach 18% by 2050 – requiring an increase in solar capacity by hundreds of GW. For this reason, the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bureau (EERE) is looking for new solutions that can reliably inject large amounts of solar energy into the grid and ensure that American-made hardware is used in these installations.

"The country's solar energy consumption is increasing," says Energy Minister Dan Brouillette. "Investing in innovative research and development projects will help the technologies we use benefit the US economy while delivering reliable electricity to all Americans."

The funding program for system integration and hardware incubator of the EERE Office for Solar Energy Technologies (SETO) for the 2021 financial year will drive solar forward in two major areas: system integration and hardware incubator.

Today's network uses electricity from several energy sources – it has become digitized and complex. The reliable and secure connection of solar energy to the power grid – be it as photovoltaics (PV) on a supply scale or as a distributed PV system on a smaller scale for households and companies – is a challenge that the following two subject areas should face. The new research roadmap for grid-forming inverters, which was developed in collaboration with three national DOE laboratories and two universities, will support research in the further development of these technologies. US universities, corporations, nonprofits, and state, local, and tribal governments are encouraged to apply under this theme. DOE is looking for innovative projects in the following areas:

-Grid-Forming Technologies Research Consortium – $ 25 Million, 1 Award: Grid-Forming Technologies automatically coordinate inverter-based and other resources to start and maintain power on the grid. SETO and the Bureau of Wind Energy Technologies, also within EERE, will support the creation of a consortium to advance research and industry collaboration on grid-building technologies and ensure that they improve the operation of power systems
-Integration of Solar Resources Behind the Meter into Utility Data Systems – $ 6 million, 2-3 Awards: Integrated communications systems that process sensor readings from distributed energy sources, especially solar PV systems behind the meter, are required for utility companies to close the grid manage. These systems will lead to better visibility of the PV system and more flexible and reliable control and operation of the entire power supply system.

In 2019, less than half of the $ 9 billion US spend on PV hardware was spent on domestic hardware. Manufacturing solar hardware in the US creates jobs and economic activity, and promotes energy security. This topic aims to increase solar production in the US by bringing innovative technologies to market faster. Only US nonprofits can apply under this topic. DOE is looking for innovative projects in the following areas:

-Product Development – $ 6 Million, 6-12 Awards: The objective of this subject area is to bring new technologies and manufacturing processes to the prototype phase and to develop and validate a path to commercial success
-Product Development and Demonstration – $ 8 Million, 1-4 Awards: This theme area is used to test and demonstrate products or solutions on a pilot scale. Examples include manufacturing processes for solar hardware with high volume or high throughput; Manufacture of a large number of devices for field tests and validations; and demonstration of a system such as a microgrid that pilot tested new hardware

For more information on the funding recently announced by the DOE to advance US solar technologies, click here.

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