- The U.S Department of Energy today announced up to $105.5 million would be available to support advanced solar energy technologies, with the largest portion earmarked for grid integration efforts.
- DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) plans to fund about 70 projects, including both solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar thermal power.
- The projects DOE selects will support its goal to lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) to $0.03/kWh from utility-scale systems by 2030 — about half the cost of utility-scale solar today, according to the agency.
Despite a focus on fossil fuels, and a budget proposal that would cut billions from renewable energy the Trump administration has continued to roll out funding opportunities for wind, solar and other clean energy technologies.
In December DOE announced up to $100 million in funding for new projects, through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy — an agency Trump has considered eliminating. In the fall of 2016, DOE also announced up to $107 million in funding for solar power projects under its SunShot Initiative.
The new funding opportunity has been tweaked, say officials, in an attempt to make it more efficient. This latest funding opportunity will combine all of the office's technology areas into one request. DOE said it would be a "more streamlined and consolidated funding strategy," as the agency "seeks to accelerate the cycles of learning in solar research and reduce government overhead costs.
Funding will focus on four areas, with the largest amount (up to $46 million) going towards advanced solar systems integration technologies. About $24 million will target concentrating solar power research; $27 million will go towards photovoltaics research and development; and up to $8.5 million will be focused on solar industry workforce initiatives.
SETO will tap approximately 70 projects for funding, with awards ranging from $200,000 to $4.5 million. Technical projects in the first three research areas are required to have at least 20% cost share (the workforce initiatives do not require this cost share). Before submitting a full proposal, groups must submit a concept paper by May 9.
Full applications are due in June, with DOE targeting a September announcement of the selected projects.
Solar advocates cheered the decision.
Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper in a statement called the announcement "another positive step in strengthening this important public-private relationship between the federal government and the American solar industry."