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Office: Solar Energy Technologies Office
Funding Number: DE-FOA-0002064
Funding Amount: $130 million
The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 (SETO FY2019) funding program will provide $130 million in funding for up to 80 projects that will advance research in solar energy technologies. The funding program will target five research areas: photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing, and solar systems integration. These projects will help achieve the solar office’s goal of improving the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more about SETO’s goals.
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 creation of teams, SETO will publish a list of organizations that have volunteered to be project partners. The list will provide contact information, area of technical expertise, and a brief description of capabilities. Applicants are urged to view this list and form new project teams.
TOPIC AREA 1: Photovoltaics Research and Development
$26 million, ~12-18 projects
This topic will support several applied research collaborations to tackle key challenges in commercially available technologies and invest in new materials that can lower the cost of PV-generated electricity. It will look at system-level opportunities that can increase the amount of energy produced by a PV array over its lifetime and lower the costs of manufacturing and deploying solar systems. In addition, it will fund several high-risk, early-stage projects to seed new ideas for continued research. Areas of interest include:
Multi-Year PV Applied Research Collaborations – Projects that will bring together teams of researchers from multiple institutions and/or companies to address vital problems that limit the performance, cost, and reliability of current PV technologies. Potential areas of interest include:
Materials, interfaces, and high-efficiency cell development
Advanced PV manufacturing science and technology
System optimization for increased energy yield and lower operations and maintenance costs
Perovskite module manufacturing and long-term durability
Low-cost substrates for single-crystal high-efficiency cells
PV system recycling and end-of-life management
Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS) – Targeted, well-defined projects in PV research that can produce significant results within the first year of performance.
TOPIC AREA 2: Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Research and Development
$33 million, ~7-18 projects
This topic will support the development of new thermal storage technologies that will make solar energy available on demand. It will also support the development of advanced manufacturing and autonomous operational technologies to reduce the cost of CSP. CSP’s inherent ability to incorporate storage makes this renewable technology more useful to grid operators. The improvements targeted by this research aim to increase the performance of CSP plants, encourage the commercialization of new CSP technologies, and support the development of an agile, U.S.-based CSP manufacturing sector. Areas of interest include:
Firm Thermal Energy Storage (TES) – Concepts that expand the availability of CSP plants for weekly or seasonal dispatch, develop pumped heat electricity storage for CSP, or pursue near-term market adoption of TES.
Materials and Manufacturing – Solutions that will significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing CSP components.
Autonomous CSP Collector Field – Solutions that enable a solar field that can fully operate without any human input, reducing costs and maximizing thermal energy collection efficiency.
TOPIC AREA 3: Balance of Systems Soft Costs Reduction
$17 million, ~15-21 projects
This topic will support several collaborative partnerships with industry to reduce regulatory and financing burdens that increase costs for solar developers and consumers. Research will be focused on enabling the country’s new and developing solar markets to tackle financing and permitting issues for solar and solar-plus-storage systems, and implementing best practices and lessons learned from SETO’s previous research. The work will also examine cybersecurity threats and potential responses to them with an eye toward developing strategic plans and other decision-making tools that can advance cybersecurity solutions in anticipation of potential technical, policy, and regulatory risks. These efforts aim to increase solar energy affordability for more Americans and expand the solar market across the country. Areas of interest include:
Collaborative Partnerships to Address Regulatory Burdens – Large stakeholder groups at a regional or nationwide scale to address regulatory burdens, with particular attention to new and developing solar markets. Areas of interest include solar and solar-plus-energy-storage permitting, inspection and interconnection challenges, and addressing solar cybersecurity challenges.
Data Collection Methods to Assess Avian Impacts – Research projects to improve data collection methodologies for cost-effectively determining how solar plants affect birds, assessing the effectiveness of mitigation technologies or techniques, and establishing a mechanism to share avian-solar data.
Increasing Solar Affordability through Innovative Solar Finance – Projects that expand solar access by developing new financing tools and/or mechanisms that can, for example, help local financial institutions fund solar energy projects in their communities.
Rapid Solar Software Development – Research and development of first-of-a-kind products or tools that address critical challenges associated with solar soft costs.
TOPIC AREA 4: Innovations in Manufacturing – Hardware Incubator
$10 million, ~10-12 projects
This topic will support for-profit companies developing early-stage product ideas that have both a clear pathway to reducing solar electricity costs and the potential for rapid commercialization. These projects should be well positioned to attract follow-on investment in the transition to becoming self-supporting. In particular, research will focus on the development of innovative and impactful technologies that support a strong U.S. solar manufacturing sector.
TOPIC AREA 5: Advanced Solar Systems Integration Technologies
$44 million, ~10-15 projects
This topic will support the development of technologies that will ease the integration of solar energy onto the nation’s electricity grid, especially in areas where solar could account for a high percentage of the electricity supply. Research will focus on how distributed generation can help provide additional value to system operators while increasing coordination and control of power electronics technologies. These technologies will improve the energy sector’s ability to respond to extreme events, like fires and cyberattacks, and rapidly restore service if interrupted. Areas of interest include:
Adaptive Distribution Protection – Hardware and software solutions that can dynamically respond to disturbances within an electrical system with high penetrations of solar energy and distributed energy resources.
Grid Services from Behind-the-Meter Solar and Other Distributed Energy Resources – Solutions that would enable solar and other distributed energy resources to provide grid services like load balancing and frequency control.
Advanced PV Controls and Cybersecurity – Technologies that enhance the visibility and control of PV inverters and sensors while improving the security of those devices from cyberattack.
SETO expects to make about 55 to 80 awards under the FY2019 SETO FOA, each ranging from $200,000 to $5 million for a total investment of $130 million. While all projects are required to have at least 20 percent cost share, projects that include demonstration are required to provide at least 50 percent cost share during the validation period.
Prior to submitting a full application for this opportunity, a brief, mandatory letter of intent is due on May 7 at 5:00 p.m. ET. See all application deadlines in the table below.
SETO hosted six webinars April 2-5: one discussing the program as a whole, and one for each of the five topics. Click the links below to watch the recordings.
Funding Program Overview (password: Setofoa2019)
Photovoltaics (password: Setofoa2019)
Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (forthcoming)
Balance of Systems Soft Costs (password: Setofoa2019)
Innovations in Manufacturing (password: Setofoa2019)
Systems Integration (password: Setofoa2019)
FOA Issue Date:March 26, 2019
Submission Deadline for Mandatory Letter of Intent:May 7, 2019 5:00 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Concept Papers:
Applicants must submit a Concept Paper by 5:00pm ET on the due date listed to be eligible to submit a Full Application. Topic Area 1.2 applications must resubmit their Letter of Intent again as a concept paper by the concept paper deadline above to clear an administrative software restriction of EERE Exchange.May 14, 2019 5:00 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Full Applications and SIPS Applications:July 25, 2019 5:00 p.m. ET
Expected Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments:September 6, 2019 5:00 p.m. ET
Expected Timeframe for EERE Selection Notifications:November 2019
Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations:November 2019 - February 2020