The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to provide $130m to support new research in early-stage solar technologies.


Image: US DOE awards $130m for early-stage solar research projects. Photo: Courtesy of Robert Jones/Pixabay

DOE said that the projects will help in achieving affordable and reliable energy to strengthen the country’s economic growth and energy security.

The funding will support five research areas which include photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing and solar systems integration.

DOE has allocated $26m for PV research and development. The funding is expected to reduce the cost of PV by half and helps in providing more affordable electricity to consumers and businesses. Achieving cost targets can help in reducing the per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for unsubsidized electricity from utility-scale, commercial, and residential PV systems would be $0.03, $0.04, and $0.05, respectively, by 2030.

To achieve these cost reductions, the research will focus on improving the performance, reducing material and manufacturing costs.

The second area is CSP research and development and DOE has allocated $33m. The area will focus on developing technologies to enable CSP in supplying power at any time or season, with a cost target of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2030.

The target also includes at least 12 hours of thermal energy storage. The research will also focus on new materials and technologies that can reduce manufacturing cost, enable new energy storage technologies.

The third area is balance of systems soft costs reduction and the department has allocated $17m. The topic area will focus in cost reduction associated with non-hardware components of a solar system, including direct costs such as siting and permitting, as well as financing and compliance with local codes, rules and regulations.

The fourth area is hardware incubator for innovations in manufacturing and DOE has allocated $10m. The funding will support new companies with early-stage product ideas to lower solar costs and rapidly achieve commercialization, with emphasis on US solar manufacturing sector.

The fifth area is advanced solar system integration technologies and the department has allocated $44m. The funding will support grid operators in integrating the increasing solar generation into grid in a cost-effective, secure, resilient and reliable manner.