U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu has announced more than $145 million for 69 projects in 24 states that are designed to accelerate research and development in the solar sector.
Funded through the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the projects are also intended to improve materials, manufacturing processes and supply chains for a wide range of photovoltaic solar cells and components of solar energy systems. The awards are part of the DOE's SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the costs of PV systems by 75% by the end of the decade.
The following six programs received funding:
Under ‘Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reductions,’ nine projects will receive $42 million. These projects will conduct research and development of new balance-of-system (BOS) hardware. BOS accounts for more than 40% of the total installed cost of solar energy systems and represents a major opportunity to achieve significant cost reductions, the DOE says.
Under ‘Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency,’ 18 projects will receive $35.8 million. This joint program with the National Science Foundation will support research that aims to eliminate the significant gap between the efficiencies of prototype cells achieved in the laboratory and the efficiencies of cells produced on manufacturing lines.
Under ‘Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems: Advanced Concepts,’ eight projects will receive $25.9 million. These projects will develop electronics and build smarter, more interactive systems and components so that solar energy can be integrated into the electric power distribution and transmission grid at higher levels, according to the DOE.
Under ‘Transformational PV Science and Technology: Next Generation Photovoltaics II,’ 23 projects will receive $22.2 million. These awards will fund applied research into technologies that are intended to greatly increase efficiency, lower costs, create secure and sustainable supply chains, and perform more reliably than the current PV technologies.
Under ‘Reducing Market Barriers and Non-Hardware Balance of System Costs,’ seven projects will receive $13.6 million. These awards will provide funding to create tools and develop methods to reduce the cost of non-hardware components for installed solar energy systems. The DOE says these projects will develop software design tools and databases that can be used by local jurisdictions and installers, as well as tools to streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules, and business processes for installing solar systems.
Finally, under ‘SunShot Incubator,’ four projects will receive $5.8 million. These projects will fund two different tiers: The first accelerates development of new technologies from concept to commercial viability. The second supports efforts that shorten the overall timeline from laboratory scale development to pilot-line manufacture.
A full list of award recipients is available here.