Author: Solar Energy Technologies Office   Published: 1/14/2021        SETO

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Learn how the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is advancing next-generation grid-forming inverters; which projects were selected to help first responders and safety officials work with new energy technologies; and how to apply for small-business funding or our $45 million solar hardware and systems integration funding opportunity. Also, be sure to check out this fellowship and this program manager job for a chance to work at SETO.

Read these stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.

Grid-Forming Inverters to the Rescue 

What happens after a blackout? Grid operators use a conventional energy source like coal or natural gas to restart the grid. But with the rapid and increasing addition of renewable energy sources like solar, it’s critical that new technologies help maintain the grid’s stability and resilience. In a new blog post, we explain how next-generation inverters can restart the grid on their own and how a new roadmap about the technology can help operators now and into the future.

Apply to Work at SETO 

We have two opportunities to join the solar office. January 15 is the last day to submit applications for the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Science and Technology Policy opportunity at SETO. This fellowship is open to recent graduates with a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree in a quantitative field and other applicants with relevant post-degree experience. Selected participants will support the solar office’s mission to advance cutting-edge solar energy technologies, improve grid reliability, support solar adoption, and reduce the cost of solar nationwide. Learn more and apply.

SETO is also seeking a program manager for our manufacturing and competitiveness team, which supports groundbreaking, early-stage solar technology concepts to move them toward greater private-sector investment and commercialization. The program manager will be responsible for planning, budgeting, implementing, managing, and evaluating initiatives, and communicating their objectives to industry stakeholders. Learn more and apply.


Two Funding Opportunities—Deadlines and Assistance

If you submitted a letter of intent (LOI) for SETO’s $45 million 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding opportunity, send us your concept paper by January 25, 5 p.m. ET. If you submitted an LOI for DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) funding opportunity, full applications are due February 22 by 11:59 p.m. ET. Applicants who are proposing Hardware Incubator or SBIR/STTR projects can get help with their application materials from Power Connectors in the American-Made Network. Visit this webpage for more information.

New Education Projects Announced to Help Professionals Working with Solar

On December 22, DOE announced it will award nearly $6 million to five project teams to develop training resources and programs for emergency responders, safety officials, building owners and operators, and others who interact with distributed energy resources like solar and storage systems. Learn more about how these awardees plan to protect and serve these professionals with support from the Education Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding program.

Improve Energy Resilience in Vulnerable Communities 

The Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project—a network of DOE offices, National Labs, and local organizations—will provide technical assistance to 8-12 remote and islanded communities that need to better withstand power disruptions and quickly recover after they occur. The program is seeking community partners to provide on-the-ground support and resources to address energy and infrastructure challenges. Register for the webinar on January 26, and apply by February 15.

Wanted: National Lab Solar Project Proposals

In December, SETO issued a $90 million FY2022–2024 Lab Call (open this link in Google Chrome) soliciting projects from National Laboratory researchers that will help increase solar integration on the grid and boost U.S. manufacturing. This program will also support a five-year consortium focused on concentrating solar-thermal power heliostat research. Concept papers are due January 26 by 5 p.m. ET.

Let’s Build: Connected Communities Deadline

Through DOE’s $65 million funding opportunity to expand its network of energy-efficient “smart” buildings, SETO has joined forces with the buildings, vehicles, and electricity offices to transform U.S. communities. SETO will award up to $7 million to projects that interact with solar and other distributed energy resources. Submit your concept papers by February 17 at 5 p.m. ET.

The Award for Best Paper Goes to…

SETO-funded project on low-cost inverter designs for transformerless solar energy systems! The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Energy Conversion journal recently named the University of Washington’s “A Multilevel DC to Three-Phase AC Architecture for Photovoltaic Power Plants” one of the best three papers published in the 2019–2020 period. The project is part of SETO’s $20 million Advanced Power Electronics Design for Solar Applications funding program, announced in 2018.

Get Your Stats Fix Here: Quarterly Solar Industry Report 

Did you know that in the first nine months of 2020, the United States installed 9 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics (PV)—its largest first-nine-month total ever? That’s just one of the highlights from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) latest quarterly solar industry report. In it, you’ll learn that the United States installed about 497 megawatt-hours of energy storage onto the electric grid in the first half of 2020, a year-over-year increase of 3%. And, 80% of the 49 GW of new U.S. electric generating capacity expected to come online in 2020 comes from solar and wind. Read more.

Shedding Light: High-Flux Solar Furnace

In honor of NREL’s 10-kilowatt High-Flux Solar Furnace’s 30th anniversary, the lab has shared a look back at how it has grown and advanced research across multiple industries. The furnace harnesses solar energy and amplifies it to the power of 2,500 suns. It’s used to test materials and components that use a lot of heat and light, such as glazings for solar collectors, as well as to study thermochemical energy storage, and much more. The furnace is open to all, including universities and businesses. Learn more about how the furnace works by watching this short video.


Solar and Energy Storage Webinar Series
February 25–26 | 12–2 p.m. ET
Join SETO for a webinar series to learn about our work to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable solar plus energy storage.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Solar Photo of the Week

Approximately 20 kilowatts of PV systems for a ranger station and biological research station in the Mona Passage, midway between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click to download.

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SETO is part of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.