DOE awards $128M to advance solar technologies

Published on November 08, 2019 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $128 million to fund 75 research projects to advance solar technologies.

The grants, awarded through the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, will advance research and development in photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing, and systems integration.

“It is undeniable that this Administration has proven its dedication to an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy. In the last three years, we have doubled our solar capacity,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said. “At DOE, we’re working to ensure that solar is more affordable for every American by reducing regulatory burdens and increasing the security and resiliency of our solar energy supply.”

The DOE set aside $23.6 million for photovoltaics research and development (R&D); $30 million for concentrating solar power R&D; $17.6 million for a balance of systems soft cost reduction: $6.8 for innovations in manufacturing; and $50 million for advanced solar systems integration technologies.

Two of those awards went to the University of Toledo and Eaton Corp. Representatives from those organizations joined U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, at a press conference this week to announce the awards.

“Investments from the Department of Energy are yielding real results for ensuring a competitive 21st-century solar industry right here in Northern Ohio,” Kaptur said. “Today’s competitively awarded grants highlight and support Northern Ohio’s important role in the research and development of solar technology. Solar technology will be a monumental part of our economic and clean energy future, not only as a region but as a nation and as a planet. Innovative institutions, including The University of Toledo and Eaton Corporation, both of which are national leaders in photovoltaics research, are moving the ball forward. As the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, I will continue to prioritize Department of Energy programs that fund these important programs and grant opportunities.”

The University of Toledo was awarded $4.5 million for a project to develop perovskite mini-modules and investigate deposition techniques that can be scaled up for high-speed manufacturing. The university will work with First Solar, a leader in industrial thin-film photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, degradation testing, and predictive lifetime modeling. The team will develop accelerated stress-testing methods that can detect what degrades perovskite modules outdoors.

The university also received $1.2 million for a project with Colorado State University for a project to identify the best materials to use to make high-quality passivated rear contacts for thin-film CdTe solar cells and possibly bifacial modules.

The Eaton Corp. was awarded $3 million to develop a real-time controller of behind-the-meter distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar and battery storage, and loads to ensure that bulk power system operators or distribution utilities get enough power.