The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) today awarded nearly $40 million to 40 projects that are advancing the next generation of solar, storage and industrial technologies necessary for achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s climate goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. Specifically, the projects will reduce the cost of solar technologies by increasing the lifespan of PV systems from 30 to 50 years, developing technologies that will enable solar to be used in fuel and chemicals production, and advancing novel storage technologies.

“We are laser focused on deploying more solar power and developing more cost-effective technologies to decarbonize our electricity system,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Research to develop stronger and longer-lasting solar panels is critical to addressing the climate crisis. The 40 projects announced today — led by universities and private industry across the country — is an investment in the next generation of innovations that will strengthen the nation’s solar capacity and enhance our grid resilience.”

The 40 projects announced today focus on concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) and PV. PV technologies directly convert sunlight into electricity, while CSP captures heat from sunlight and uses that thermal energy. The projects will focus on:

  • Photovoltaic research – Three projects to help make PV systems last 50 years, 20 years longer than current PV system lifetimes, which would reduce replacement and maintenance costs of solar systems. These projects will enable modular components that could be easily replaced due to normal wear and tear or after extreme weather events and better monitoring of systems. (Total award amount: $4.5 million)
  • Concentrating solar-thermal power research – Thirteen projects will develop technologies that can enable CSP plants to operate at very high temperatures, which are necessary to produce fuels and chemicals with solar. These projects also improve commercial CSP plants’ overall reliability. (Total award amount: $25 million)
  • Pumped thermal energy storage – Three projects will develop long-duration thermal energy storage, which can store and deliver at least 10 hours of electricity whenever it is needed, supporting DOE’s Long Duration Storage Shot. (Total award amount: $4 million)
  • PV and CSP research advancement – Twenty-one projects will test novel ideas that can produce significant results in less than two years. These projects have a simplified application process, designed to encourage applications from engineering and science researchers in traditionally underrepresented groups, as well as early-career researchers who have never applied or been selected for DOE funding. (Total award amount: $6 million)

In addition, DOE seeks comment on its proposed research areas for supporting American solar manufacturing. The request for information solicits feedback on research, development and demonstration areas that will help scale up solar deployment across the country. DOE aims to invest in product development and demonstration projects to accelerate the growth of the solar industry and position the U.S. on the leading edge of solar industry advances. Stakeholders can email responses to [email protected] by November 7, 2021, at 5 p.m. ET.

Finally, DOE seeks comment on performance targets for perovskite photovoltaics, a material for making solar panels that shows the potential for high-efficiency operation and low production costs. These targets will help to demonstrate technical and commercial readiness for perovskites. Stakeholders can email responses to [email protected] by November 12, 2021, at 5 p.m. ET.

News item from DOE

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