Author: DOE              Published: 6/25/2020    DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office

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Seven solar projects have been selected to receive funding to get them closer to market; 20 teams are gearing up to present their solar innovations at the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 demo day; it’s time to submit your full applications for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) professional training funding program and your concepts for the $9 million Solar Desalination Prize; SETO held its fourth quarterly webinar; and a new report highlights best practices for concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) systems.


These stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.

Technology Commercialization Fund Project Selections

On June 11, DOE announced that the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) will award over $33 million to 82 projects through the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF), a competitive funding opportunity for the DOE National Laboratories that calls for private-sector partners. The partners are matching these funds with more than $36 million. Seven of those projects will work to bring solar energy technologies to market, and their contributions range from $150,000 to $600,000. The solar project selections are:

  • Idaho National Laboratory and Inergy Holdings (Pocatello, ID): Operational Integration and Scalable Deployment of Microgrid Control Algorithms into Nanogrid Inverter + Photovolatics + Storage Applications
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and First Solar (San Francisco, CA): Cracked Film Lithography for Metal Grids in Cadmium-Telluride Modules
  • NREL and 1366 Technologies (Bedford, MA): Passivated Contacts for Direct Wafers
  • NREL and Tandem PV (Santa Clara, CA): Scribe and Interface Modification for Stable Halide Perovskite Modules
  • NREL and Hyperlight Energy (Lakeside, CA): Technical and Commercial Assessment of a Newly Developed Secondary Reflector Design for Linear Fresnel Technology
  • Sandia National Laboratories and SunSpec Alliance (San Jose, CA): Continuous Interoperability for Distributed Energy
  • Sandia National Laboratories and Heliogen (Pasadena, CA): Heliostat Observation System Commercial Qualification

Set to Go: Demo Day for American-Made Solar Prize Round 3

On July 9, 20 teams competing in the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 will demonstrate their proofs of concept for a panel of experts at a live virtual event for a chance to win $100,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers to be used at the National Labs. On July 10, SETO Director Becca Jones-Albertus will announce the 10 teams selected to advance to the final stage of the $3 million competition to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. Register for the July 10 event today to be part of the excitement.

Be In It to Win It: The Solar Desalination Prize

We’re coming down to the wire: There’s less than a month left to submit concepts for the $9 million Solar Desalination Prize competition, which aims to speed the development of innovative solar-thermal desalination systems. If you can design plans to build a successful one, we want to know about it. SETO recently held two informational webinars about the prize to give an overview of the submission process and answer technical questions for potential applicants. Download the webinar recordings and send your innovative ideas by July 16.

Solar Desalination Prize

Deadline Approaching: Help Professionals Work with New Energy Technologies

Time is running out to submit full applications for DOE’s Education Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding opportunity. EMPOWERED aims to develop new—and build upon current—training programs and materials for first responders and other professionals newly working with solar, alternative-fuel, and building-efficiency technologies. DOE expects to award up to four projects between $1 million and $2.5 million each. Learn more and apply by July 8 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Let’s Recap: SETO’s Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar

On June 4, many of you attended SETO’s second quarterly webinar to “Ask an Expert” your most pressing questions about solar energy technologies, the office’s goals, funding programs, prizes, projects, and more. If you couldn’t join us, you can download the recording and presentation to catch what you missed. Our next one will be early this fall, so stay tuned for the date and time.

NREL Releases New Solar Industry Data

Solar energy capacity continues to grow in the United States, with 13.4 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic (PV) energy installed in 2019 to reach a cumulative capacity of 76 GW. That’s according to the latest Quarterly Solar Industry Update published by the NREL on June 19. The lab also found that PV represented approximately 34% of new U.S. electricity generation in 2019 and just over 1 gigawatt-hour (0.5 GW) of energy storage was installed onto the grid in 2019—an increase of 43% year over year. Read the full update and view the summary here.

Report Provides Best Practices for CSP

As a result of SETO’s Fiscal Year 2019-21 Lab Call, NREL recently released the “Concentrating Solar Power Best Practices Study.” The report identifies issues with parabolic trough and power tower systems and proposes solutions that will lead to stronger, lower-cost CSP projects with better plant operation over the long term. The researchers gathered information from plant owners, operators, engineers, and other stakeholders representing 80% of the world’s CSP plants. Learn more about the findings.

Labs Against COVID-19

DOE’s OTT is leading the fight against the coronavirus through a partnership with the National Laboratories. The new COVID-19 portal on its Lab Partnering Service (LPS) and the COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) equip innovators with the tools they need to combat the pandemic. CTAP is a program offering OTT funds to National Labs so that they can partner with outside parties on short-term COVID-19 projects. The portal uses the LPS database to identify new technologies and opportunities for innovators partnering with National Labs in the fight against COVID-19. Read more about OTT’s portal and assistance program.

Shedding Light: New Webpage on Revised Interconnection Standard

NREL has a new educational webpage with information on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standard 1547™-2018. The revised standard is designed to help grid operators, utilities, states, solar developers, policymakers and other stakeholders who work with distributed energy resources. The webpage includes a list of resources to help stakeholders adopt and put the standard into practice.

(IEEE) Standard 1547™-2018


Durable Module Materials (DuraMAT) Consortium Webinar 
July 13  | 3:00 p.m. ET
An NREL researcher will present at the “Multi-Scale Modeling of Photovoltaic Module Electrically Conductive Adhesive Interconnects for Reliability Testing” webinar.

SunSpec and Sandia Cybersecurity Webinar: Project Ekhi
July 15 | 12:00 p.m. ET
A Sandia researcher will discuss her SETO-funded project that is working to detect and respond to cyber threats at the “Project Ekhi: Proactive Intrusion Detection and Mitigation System for DER Cybersecurity” webinar.

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) Grid Evolution Summit 
July 28-30 | 1:00 p.m. ET
The 2020 SEPA Grid Evolution Summit is a virtual event featuring sessions on integrated distribution planning, building community resilience with microgrids, and more.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Ivanpah Solar Project in California

Contracted workers clean heliostats at the Ivanpah Solar Project in California. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click the photo to download it.

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