Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program

This SBIR/STTR topics document is issued in advance of the FY 2018 DOE SBIR/STTR

Phase I Release 1
Funding Opportunity Announcement scheduled to be issued in on August 14, 2017. The purpose of the early release of the topics is to allow applicants an opportunity to identify technology areas of interest and to begin formulating innovative responses and partnerships.

Applicants new to the DOE SBIR/STTR programs
are encouraged to attend upcoming topic and Funding Opportunity Announcement webinars. Dates for these webinars are listed on our website: Topics may be modified in the future. Applicants are encouraged to check for future updates to this document, particularly when the Funding Opportunity Announcement is issued. Any changes to topics will be listed at the beginning of this document.

General introductory information about the DOE SBIR/STTR programs can be found online here: Please check out the tutorials–a series of short videos designed to get you up to speed quickly.

Federal statutes governing the SBIR/STTR programs require federal agencies to evaluate the commercial potential of innovations proposed by small business applicants. To address this requirement, the DOE SBIR/STTR programs require applicants to submit commercialization plans as part of their Phase I and II applications. DOE understands that commercialization plans will evolve, sometimes significantly, during the course of the research and development, but investing time in commercialization planning demonstrates a commitment to meeting objectives of the SBIR/STTR programs.

During Phase I and II awards, DOE provides
small businesses with commercialization assistance through a DOE-funded contractor.
The responsibility for commercialization lies with the small business. DOE’s SBIR/STTR topics are drafted by DOE program managers seeking to advance the DOE mission. Therefore, while topics may define important scientific and technical challenges, we look to our small business applicants to define how they will bring commercially viable products or services to market. In cases where applicants are able identify a viable technical solution, but unable to identify a successful commercialization strategy, we recommend that
they do not submit an SBIR/STTR application.

Selected topic and subtopics contained in this document are designated as Technology Transfer Opportunities (TTOs). The questions and answers below will assist you in understanding how TTO topics and subtopics differ from our regular topics.

What is a Technology Transfer Opportunity?
A Technology Transfer Opportunity (TTO) is an opportunity to leverage technology that has been developed at a university or DOE National Laboratory. Each TTO will be described in a particular subtopic and additional information may be obtained by using the link in the subtopic to the university or National Lab that has developed the technology. Typically the technology was developed with DOE funding of either basic or applied research and is available for transfer to the private sector. The level of technology maturity will
9 vary and applicants are encouraged to contact the appropriate university or Laboratory prior to submitting an application.

How would I draft an appropriate project description for a TTO?
For Phase I, you would write a project plan that describes the research or development that you would perform to establish the feasibility of the TTO for a commercial application. The major difference from a regular subtopic is that you will be able to leverage the prior R&D carried out by the university or National Lab and your project plan should reflect this.
Am I required to show I have a subaward with the university or National Lab that developed the TTO inmy grant application?

No. Your project plan should reflect the most fruitful path forward for developing the technology. In some cases, leveraging expertise or facilities of a university or National Lab via a subaward may help to accelerate the research or development effort. In those cases, the small business may wish to negotiate with the university or National Lab to become a subawardee on the application.

How will applying for an SBIR or STTR grant associated with a TTO benefit me?
By leveraging prior research and patents from a National Lab you will have a significant “head start” on bringing a new technology to market. To make greatest use of this advantage it will help for you to have prior knowledge of the application or market for the TTO.

Tesla Hit by Class-Action Lawsuit Claiming Racial Discrimination

Nov. 13, 2017, at 5:34 p.m.

(Reuters) – U.S. automaker Tesla Inc on Monday was hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming its California production plant is a “hotbed for racist behavior.”

The lawsuit filed in California state court in Oakland is at least the third filed this year by black workers who say they were addressed using racial slurs and that the company ignored their complaints.

But Monday’s lawsuit, filed by former Tesla employee Marcus Vaughn, is the first to bring those claims on behalf of a large class of black workers at the automaker’s Fremont, California factory.

The company is also facing lawsuits accusing it of discrimination against gay and older workers. It has denied those claims.

Vaughn in the lawsuit says he was routinely called the “n-word” by supervisors and coworkers after he began working at the factory in April. He says he complained in writing to human resources officials, but the company never investigated his claims.

Vaughn says he was fired in October for “not having a positive attitude.” He is seeking unspecified damages under a California anti-discrimination law.

The growing number of discrimination lawsuits against Tesla come as the company is also facing a unionization campaign from the United Auto Workers.

In February, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk told the website Gizmodo that an employee who wrote a blog post criticizing the company was “paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union.”

The union and the worker denied that he had been paid by UAW. Last month, the union filed a complaint with a federal labor board on behalf of scores of workers who it says were laid off because they support the union.

The company denied the claims and said the decision was based on employee performance reviews.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; editing by Clive McKeef)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

Another Former Employee Wants to Sue Tesla

Duke to invest $3B to strengthen South Carolina’s grid system in 10-year plan

AUTHOR:Robert Walton @TeamWetDog
PUBLISHED Nov. 6, 2017

Dive Brief:

Duke Energy announced last week that it will invest $3 billion over in South Carolina over the next decade, aiming to strengthen the distribution grid and boost to the state’s economy.
The plan includes $1.3 billion to bury power lines, or convert overhead lines to underground, $700 million for hardening and resilience of its distribution system, and $500 million for transmission improvements.
According to Duke, benefits to the state stretch beyond reliable power, and include more than $116 million in new tax revenue and a total economic output of more than $5 billion over the next decade.

Duke Energy has announced a 10-year plan to invest in South Carolina’s electric grid, aiming to harden its system while also having a solid economic impact on the state.

“Investing in smarter, efficient energy infrastructure is more than just good business – it’s an investment in our state that helps to attract jobs and industry and makes our economy and our communities stronger, Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president, said in a statement.

The largest part of Duke’s plan includes burying thousands of miles of hard-to-access overhead lines underground “Our goal is to underground 20 percent of the least reliable vegetated overhead lines on the grid,” the company explained

Distribution system improvements will help prevent outages, especially during storms, and provides faster restoration times. Duke will retrofit 49,000 transformers with new technology to prevent animal interference and lightning strikes, and will replacing 2,300 miles of “deteriorating cable” that is more susceptible to failure.

The work will also include installing physical and cybersecurity enhancements that will “protect against hackers and everyday occurrences like animal intrusions and vandalism.” Duke will also spend almost $400 million on developing a self-optimization grid that will increase connectivity, capacity and control.

The utility says its 10-year modernization plan will result in almost 3,300 jobs supported per year, almost $315 million in new salaries and wages annually during the peak years of construction, and more than $116 million in new tax revenue for the state.

Duke’s efforts underline a broader effort by utilities across the nation to harden the grid against devastating storms. Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico are three such examples of states and U.S. territories exploring ways to boost resilience in the wake of devastating hurricanes.

Recommended Reading:

Duke Energy
Duke Energy’s plan to strengthen South Carolina’s energy grid will create jobs, grow the state’s economy

Funding Opportunity Announcement: Solar Desalination


solar desalination graphic
Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Funding Number: DE-FOA-0001778
Funding Amount: $15 million


The Solar Desalination funding program will develop novel technologies or concepts using solar thermal energy to assist in creating freshwater from otherwise unusable waters. Thermal desalination is a potential solution to increase water supplies for municipal water and agriculture, and is an important technology to purify water produced from various industrial processes, including oil and gas production. Advancing state-of-the-art thermal technologies and energy-efficient desalination systems will reduce the levelized cost of water by reducing the levelized cost of heat, resulting in more efficient thermal desalination processes and lower overall capital and integration costs for solar thermal desalination.

Awards will be separated into four topics:

Innovations in thermal desalination technologies;
Low-cost solar thermal energy collection and storage;
Integrated solar thermal desalination systems; and
Analysis for solar desalination.
graphic display of solar desalination FOA topic areas
SunShot expects to make 7-10 awards under Solar Desalination, each ranging between $500,000 and $5 million for a total of $15 million. Prior to submitting a full application for this opportunity, a brief, mandatory concept paper is due on December 4, 2017. See all application deadlines in the table below.

FOA Issue Date: September 27, 2017
Informational Webinar: October 12, 2017, 1:30 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Mandatory Concept Papers: December 4, 2017
Submission Deadline for Full Applications: March 16, 2018
Expected Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments: April 16, 2018
Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications: June 2018
Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations: August 2018
Additional Information

Download the full funding opportunity on the EERE Exchange website

Read the EERE press release about this funding opportunity announcement

For FOA-specific support, contact

See more funding opportunities from SunShot and sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news.

Killing the Electric Car? Not on Our Watch.

Katherine Stainken
Policy Director, Plug In America

Dear Plug In America Friends,

Help stop Congress from trying to kill the electric car! Just this morning, Chairman Brady of the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R.1. The bill calls for the repeal of the $7,500 federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit, effective December 31, 2017.
Help us stop this now!
Let’s be totally clear. Abruptly ending the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs will significantly hurt the electric vehicle market, as EVs make up less than 1% of light-duty vehicle sales in the U.S. This federal tax credit is a key incentive that helps consumers make the switch to driving electric. Abruptly ending the credit this December will rock these purchase decisions. This is absolutely terrible, as new makes and models of EVs will become available to more than 40% of the total U.S. car market in January 2018 thanks to clean air regulations that require the automakers to sell more EVs.
We need you to send a message to your Representative and Senators right now and tell them to leave the $7,500 tax credit alone.
This credit already has a cap on when it will expire – when each automaker has sold 200,000 EVs. There’s absolutely no need to end the credit now. If anything, for all the benefits that EVs provide – fuel savings for consumers, technology and innovation leadership in the U.S., electric grid benefits, clean air, reduced healthcare costs, improved national security – Congress should be talking about an extension or expansion of the credit.
Contact your Representative and Senators below– ending the $7,500 EV tax credit will NOT happen on our watch.
Thank you – please share this action alert widely!


House GOP tax package boosts nukes, slashes wind, EV credits AUTHOR

BRIEF/AUTHOR: Peter Maloney@TopFloorPower
PUBLISHED Nov. 3, 2017

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled a bill that would overhaul U.S. tax policy, including cuts into several existing energy tax incentives, particularly for renewable energy.

The tax reform proposal would reduce the wind energy production tax credit to 1.5¢/kWh from 2.3¢/kWh and firm up the expiration date for the incentive. The bill would also end federal tax credits for electric vehicles, but would extend credits for a variety of residential and commercial energy technologies to 2022.

The bill would also extend an estimated $6 billion tax credit for nuclear power that otherwise would likely expire before the only under-construction nuclear power project would be able to claim it.
Story continues below

Prediction Model Gets Ahead of Storms
The majority of utilities recognize that they need to do a better job predicting the localized impact of approaching storms. Are prediction models the answer?

The long awaited GOP tax reform bill is sure to inspire battles on several fronts. Already, its release prompted quick responses from the renewable energy community, among others.

The American Wind Energy Association claimed the bill would strip away “the investment certainty Congress promised wind developers just two years ago.”

While the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power would remain in place, it would be cut to 1.5¢/kWh from 2.3¢/kWh, a change AWEA says congressional analysts estimate would cut $11 billion in benefits over the next 10 years.

“The proposal could represent a significant hit to the wind energy sector,” Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, told Bloomberg.

The bill would also hit the electric vehicle industry, with a proposal to end the $7,500 federal credit for EV purchases. When Georgia ended its $5,000 state tax credit for EVs and replaced it with a $200 registration fee in 2015, sales fell 80%.

The bill also would align the expiration dates for tax credits for resources such as solar and wind facilities, fuel cells, and combined heat and power plants, by moving the construction start deadline to Jan. 1, 2022. It would also extend tax credits for residential energy efficiency programs to Dec. 31, 2021.

The bill also would extend a nuclear power production tax credit to new power plants that enter service by 2021. That could benefit the long delayed Vogtle nuclear project being developed by Southern Co. and its partners in Georgia. The project is facing even more delays in the wake of the bankruptcy of the project’s main contractor, Westinghouse Electric, in the spring.

The tax bill would also add tax credits for energy sources such as geothermal, small-scale wind and fuel cells, that were left out of a 2015 budget and spending deal that re-instated the PTC for wind power.

Under current law the tax credit for solar power is set to step down to 10% and then stay there, but under the proposed bill it would end after 2027.

For the oil and gas industries, the tax bill calls for the end of some small tax breaks, including a tax credit for marginal wells. The bill would also eliminate a tax credit for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which pumps water or carbon dioxide into aging wells to extend their productive life.

In a Nov. 2 letter, a wide ranging group of industry and labor leaders called on the Senate Finance Committee to include an extension of the tax credit for carbon dioxide sequestration in the tax reform bill.

The proponents say the sequestration tax credits would “create opportunities to innovate and improve efficiencies, reducing the costs of capture technologies.” They say the credits are needed to bring down the cost of CO2 captured from power plants and other industrial sources “in order to be economic in [enhanced oil recovery] operations” and to scale up geologic storage of CO2.

The tax bill, Congressional leaders cautioned, is likely to change. Already Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a powerful ally of the wind industry, has called for amendments to reverse cuts to the PTC, and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) is campaigning to save the EV tax credit.

“The wind energy production tax credit is already being phased out under a compromise brokered in 2015,” Grasskey said said in a statement. “It shouldn’t be re-opened. I’m working within the Senate Finance Committee to see that the commitment made to a multi-year phase-out remains intact.”

Recommended Reading:

House Tax Bill Trims Wind Tax Credit, Extends Nuclear Provisionoffsite link
The Hill
GOP tax bill ends electric vehicle tax credit, overhauls other energy taxesoffsite link

Solar Energy Technologies Office/SunShot Initiative

Dear Solar Supporter,

You have until this Friday, November 3 to submit a concept paper for the Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems (Gen3CSP) funding opportunity.

Gen3CSP will take successful high-temperature, lab-scale sub-component CSP technologies, develop them into integrated assemblies, and test these components and systems through a wide range of conditions. The first phase of the funding program will address gaps in technology pathways and focus on eliminating risks, while the second phase will build a test facility where the most successful pathway can be further studied.

There will be approximately 12 awards under Gen3CSP, each ranging between $500,000 and $35 million for a total of $62 million.

Download the full funding opportunity here and be sure to submit your mandatory concept papers by 5:00 p.m. ET this Friday.


The Solar Energy Technologies Office

Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship 2018 Program / Now accepting Applications

The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) Program provides college students with an opportunity to gain and develop research skills with the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy for 10 weeks over the summer. For 20 years, this program has increased awareness of DOE research opportunities to students pursuing STEM degrees (short for science, technology, engineering and math). The goal of the program is to improve opportunities for women and minority students in these fields, however all eligible candidates are encouraged to apply.

Selected candidates will train under the mentorship of program officials and scientists on focused research projects consistent with the mission of the Office of Fossil Energy. The 10-week summer program may place students at one of several possible FE sites including:

Department of Energy Headquarters, Washington, D.C. and Germantown, MD
National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA; Morgantown, WV; Albany, OR
Strategic Petroleum Reserve, New Orleans, LA; and other SPR sites in LA and TX
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
Sandia National Laboratory, Livermore, CA
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Livermore, CA
Los Alamos National Lab, Los Alamos, NM

Be at least 18 years of age at time of application
Be a U.S. Citizen
Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
Be currently enrolled full-time as a degree-seeking student in a STEM program at an accredited college or university at the Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral level (Students pursuing an Associate’s degree are eligible to apply if transferring to pursue a Bachelor’s degree for fall 2018). Must be at least a college sophomore at the time of application.
Be available to participate in the full 10-week program
Application deadline: January 3, 2018, 11:59PM EST

How to Apply: Applications and supporting materials must be submitted at

Program Information: Detailed information about the internship can be found at

For questions please email us at