U.S. Energy Department to Invest $130 Million to Advance Solar Technologies

The U.S. Energy Department will provide up to $130 million to support research and development of early-stage solar technologies, according to a March 26 news release. The funding will support up to 80 projects focused on photovoltaics, concentrating solar-thermal power, soft costs reduction, innovation in the solar manufacturing sector, and advanced grid integration technologies.

The department also selected $36 million in research projects aimed at advancing the role of solar energy in strengthening the resilience of the power grid. The resiliency projects are intended to equip grid operators with the ability to rapidly detect physical and cyber-based issues and utilize solar generation for quick recovery from outages, without human intervention in many instances, the agency said. The focus areas include “grid-forming” inverters, cyber-secure communications during emergencies, smart sensors, and automated control schemes.

The agency’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, which will provide the funding under its fiscal year 2019 program, expects to make 55 to 80 awards, each ranging from $200,000 to $5 million for a total of $130 million. The office launched the SunShot Initiative in 2011 to support solar adoption by driving down costs. Following the progress toward its 2020 targets, the office committed to a new goal of cutting down the costs by an additional 50 percent between 2020 and 2030.

The office will host webinars from April 2-5 discussing the research areas.