- The Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday announced up to $53 million in funding for 53 new research projects aimed at advancing solar power initiatives and developing the solar workforce.
- The bulk of the recipients are universities with projects for photovoltaic (PV) solar technology and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). The projects span 21 states and the District of Columbia.
- The awards follow a March solicitation from the DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Office for up to $105.5 million in funding across four categories. Tuesday's announcement did not include the largest category from the March solicitation, which set aside $46 million for about 14 projects focused on advanced solar system integration technologies.
The Trump administration has called for cuts to solar and other renewables spending by DOE. This round of awards showed a focus on job creation, as the workforce initiative category increased from the $8 million estimated in the March solicitation to $12.7 million.
The PV research topic received $27.7 million, on par with the March solicitation, and CSP research received $12.4 million although the department originally designated $24 million for that category.
The largest award goes to the Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI) "Grid Ready Energy Analytics Training with Data" project, which will get $6 million from DOE and includes a $1.5 million cost share as part of the workforce initiative category. The digital training program will be based in Knoxville, Tennessee, but will be active on a national scale, according to Tom Reddoch, EPRI's principal technical executive and the project's manager.
The DOE had indicated in the original solicitation that it would give two $3 million awards to projects focused on "Digital Adaptation Training for Distributed Energy Resources (DER) on the Grid," which Reddoch referred to as the intersection between information technology and operational technology.
EPRI scaled up their $3 million proposal when the DOE indicated, after the initial phase of submissions, that it would offer the full $6 million to one project, Reddoch told Utility Dive.
Regarding the workforce category of projects, "we are following through on our program to reach out to military veterans with new projects that will target this committed workforce," Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a statement.
Of the seven workforce projects, only one program specifically mentions a training initiative targeting Native Americans and veterans from the project names published by DOE. That California-based program is being awarded $600,000 of the $12.7 million issued for workforce initiatives. Other programs could have specifically addressed the emphasis on veterans in the workforce within their proposals.
"The electric industry hires veterans at almost twice the rate as [the] veterans-reperesented part of the workforce," Reddoch said.
EPRI had submitted a separate workforce initiative proposal meant to focus on veterans but was not encouraged to continue in the process, Reddoch said.
Seven PV projects spanning universities from Arizona State to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies that each earned $1,500,000. Those projects focus on a range of topics like studying perovskite solar cells and achieving a levelized cost of solar electricity of $0.03/kWh.
DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy was not immediately available for comment on the significance of the research and the total sum of awards.
|Recipient||DOE Award ($)||Cost Share ($)||State||Type|
|University of Texas at Dallas||200,000||69,113||TX||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|Washington State University||198,578||49,645||WA||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|University of Minnesota Twin Cities||200,000||50,000||MN||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|Columbia University||200,000||50,000||NY||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|Colorado School of Mines 2||200,000||50,000||CO||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1||200,000||50,000||IL||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2||200,000||50,000||IL||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|University of Washington 1||198,806||50,329||WA||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|Arizona State University 1||200,000||50,000||AZ||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|DNV GL||200,000||50,000||CA||PV: Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS)|
|Princeton University||1,500,000||375,000||NJ||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|University of Michigan||1,300,000||325,474||MI||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||700,000||175,000||GA||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Colorado State University||750,000||187,500||CO||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|KWH Analytics||1,250,000||500,000||CA||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Stanford University||1,469,069||375,000||CA||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|University of Washington 2||1,500,000||375,000||WA||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Arizona State University 2||1,000,000||250,000||AZ||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Cypress Creek Renewables||1,500,000||396,310||CA||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Case Western Reserve University||1,350,000||337,500||OH||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|University of Colorado Boulder||1,499,764||375,235||CO||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|University of Washington 3||681,016||179,090||WA||PV Cells, Modules and Systems|
|Amtech Systems, Inc.||1,120,000||280,000||AZ||PV: Collaborative Cross-Cutting Research|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||1,500,000||375,000||MA||PV: Collaborative Cross-Cutting Research|
|University of Delaware||800,000||200,000||DE||PV: Collaborative Cross-Cutting Research|
|Arizona State University 3||1,500,000||375,000||AZ||PV: Collaborative Cross-Cutting Research|
|Arizona State University 4||1,500,000||375,000||AZ||PV: Collaborative Cross-Cutting Research|
|Groundswell||1,500,000||375,000||DC||PV: Innovative Pathways|
|Int'l Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology||999,935||256,454||CO||PV: Innovative Pathways|
|Arizona State University 5||1,229,307||307,328||AZ||PV: Innovative Pathways|
|Grid Alternatives||999,470||2,022,801||CA||PV: Innovative Pathways|
|Lucent Optics, Inc.||400,000||100,000||CA||CSP: SIPS|
|Sundog Solar Technology||321,000||81,000||CO||CSP: SIPS|
|Dartmouth College||400,000||100,000||NH||CSP: SIPS|
|Purdue University 1||400,000||100,000||IN||CSP: SIPS|
|Purdue University 2||400,000||100,000||IN||CSP: SIPS|
|University of California, San Diego||400,000||100,000||CA||CSP: SIPS|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 1||399,991||100,102||VA||CSP: SIPS|
|University of Utah||400,000||100,000||UT||CSP: SIPS|
|University of Michigan 1||260,000||65,000||MI||CSP: SIPS|
|SolarReserve, LLC||2,000,000||500,000||CA||CSP: Advanced Collectors|
|University of California, Davis||2,219,315||582,988||CA||CSP: Advanced Power Cycles|
|Comprex, LLC||1,242,525||317,174||WI||CSP: Advanced Power Cycles|
|Colorado School of Mines 1||1,858,170||464,712||CO||CSP: Advanced Thermal Transport|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 2||903,045||225,764||VA||CSP: Advanced Power Cycles|
|University of Arizona||800,000||200,000||AZ||CSP: Advanced Power Cycles|
|Midwest Renewable Energy Association||800,000||900,000||WI||Workforce: Expansion|
|Blue Lake Rancheria||600,000||N/A||CA||Workforce: Expansion|
|Safer Foundation||800,000||N/A||IL||Workforce: Expansion|
|Illinois Green Economy Network||1,250,000||N/A||IL||Workforce: Expansion|
|The Solar Foundation||2,000,000||N/A||DC||Workforce: Expansion|
|Philadelphia Energy Authority||1,250,000||46,500||PA||Workforce: Expansion|
|Electric Power Research Institute||6,000,000||1,500,000||TN||Workforce: Digital Adaptation Training for DER|