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Department of Energy Announces $53 Million in New Projects to Advance Solar Technologies

; Date: October 23, 2018

Tags: US Department of Energy »»»» Solar Energy

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced selections for up to $53 million in new projects to advance early-stage solar technologies. Through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, DOE will fund (www.energy.gov) 53 innovative research projects that will lower solar electricity costs and support a growing solar workforce.

“Innovation is key to solar’s continued growth in our nation’s energy portfolio. It increases our energy diversity and reinforces our ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Developing new skills through workforce training is critical to expanding job opportunities in the renewable sector, which is why we are following through on our program to reach out to military veterans with new projects that will target this committed workforce.”

These selections will advance research and development in photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). While PV materials convert sunlight directly to electricity, CSP concentrates the incoming sunlight to heat that then generates electricity like a traditional power plant. The projects announced today span across 21 states plus the District of Columbia, and include PV research to increase grid resiliency in Puerto Rico. Selections are in the following areas:

  • (www.energy.gov) Photovoltaics Research and Development: $27.7 million for 31 projects that will support early-stage research to advance new PV materials, like perovskites, which can essentially be painted on a surface to generate electricity. More innovation is needed to achieve high efficiency and stable performance over a long-time.
  • (www.energy.gov) Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development: $12.4 million for 15 research projects that will advance the high-temperature components of CSP systems such as heat exchangers. These projects will develop materials and designs for collectors, power cycles, and thermal transport systems that can withstand temperatures greater than 700 °C while being corrosion-resistant. Next-generation CSP systems operating at higher temperatures will be able to store more heat and dispatch solar electricity at any time, day or night.
  • (www.energy.gov) Improving and Expanding the Solar Industry through Workforce Initiatives: $12.7 million for 7 projects that will pursue initiatives to grow and train the solar workforce. These projects will support training and curriculum development at community colleges and advanced training for a more digital electric power system, which includes communications technology. This includes programs to prepare veterans and interested transitioning military personnel to join the solar workforce, building on DOE’s pilot program, Solar Ready Vets.

See the full list of projects on the website (www.energy.gov) HERE. Award amounts are subject to final negotiation.

Learn more about DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (www.energy.gov) HERE.

Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)

The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 (SETO FY2018) funding program addresses the affordability, flexibility, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. This program funds early-stage research projects that advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies and supports efforts that prepare the solar workforce for the industry’s future needs.

On October 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $53 million in funding for 53 projects. (www.energy.gov) Read the announcement. On March 22, 2019, an additional $28 million in funding was announced for 25 projects.

Approach

This funding program seeks to advance early-stage technologies that help the office to reach its (www.energy.gov) 2030 cost targets while also increasing the number of talent pools in the industry and preparing those in the utility industry to manage a modern grid.

Projects are listed in the pages below:

  • (www.energy.gov) Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development CSP projects support progress toward achieving a 50% cost reduction by 2030 and will focus on advancing components found in CSP sub-systems, including collectors, power cycles, and thermal transport systems, while pursuing new methods for introducing innovation to CSP research.
  • (www.energy.gov) Photovoltaics Research and Development PV projects support early-stage research that increase performance, reduce materials and processing costs, and improve reliability of PV cells, modules, and systems to enable the industry to achieve its 2030 cost goals.
  • (www.energy.gov) Improving and Expanding the Solar Industry through Workforce Initiatives Workforce projects seek to prepare the solar industry for a digital future and modern grid while also increasing the number of veterans and other participants in the solar industry.

Within the PV research area, the office has also selected projects that will develop and test new ways to accelerate the integration of emerging technologies into the solar industry. These Innovative Pathway projects do not fund individual technologies along their pathway to market, but instead focus on improving the pathway itself.

Objectives

Projects in this funding program will strengthen the innovation ecosystem across the country and work toward achieving the office’s 2030 cost targets. Technical projects will work toward developing new technologies and solutions capable of lowering solar electricity costs for both PV and CSP while Innovative Pathway projects will work toward creating new ways to overcome technology transfer challenges. Workforce projects will help prepare the industry for its future needs through programs that are designed to help utility professionals manage a modern grid and increase the number of veterans and other talent pools in the industry.

Learn more about the (www.energy.gov) concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, and (www.energy.gov) workforce projects.

SETO FY2018 – Photovoltaics

The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 (SETO FY2018) funding program addresses the affordability, flexibility, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. This program funds early-stage research projects that advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies and supports efforts that prepare the solar workforce for the industry’s future needs.

On October 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $53 million in funding for 53 projects in the SETO FY2018 funding program. Of those projects, 31 will focus on photovoltaics research and development. Read the announcement. On March 22, 2019, an additional $28 million in funding was announced for 25 projects, 18 of which will focus on PV research and development.

Approach

Projects in the photovoltaics research and development topic support early-stage research that increase performance, reduce materials and processing costs, and improve reliability of PV cells, modules, and systems to enable the industry to achieve its 2030 cost goals.

Within the PV topic, the office has also selected projects that will develop and test new ways to accelerate the integration of emerging technologies into the solar industry. These Innovative Pathway projects do not fund individual technologies along their pathway to market, but instead focus on improving the pathway itself.

Objectives

Projects in this funding program will strengthen the innovation ecosystem across the country and work toward achieving the office’s 2030 cost targets. Technical projects will work toward developing new technologies and solutions capable of lowering solar electricity costs for PV, while Innovative Pathway projects will work toward creating new ways to overcome technology transfer challenges.

Selectees

Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations

Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): Photovoltaics

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS

Project Name: Higher Throughput, Lower Cost Processing of Flexible Perovskite Solar Cells by Photonic Curing

Location: Richardson, TX

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $69,113

Principal Investigator: Julia Hsu

Project Summary: In collaboration with NovaCentrix, this team will apply photonic curing to the thermal annealing process needed to form and optimize the layers in a perovskite solar cell. Photonic curing can replace the lengthy, costly, and energy-intensive conventional heating methods that are not compatible with high-throughput manufacturing on flexible substrates. The goal of this project is to increase manufacturing throughput and lower manufacturing costs while maintaining the performance metrics needed to establish a clear path toward the $.03 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2030 for utility-scale solar.

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Preparation and Evaluation of N-type CdSeTe as an Absorber in Thin-Film CdTe PV

Location: Pullman, WA

DOE Award Amount: $198,578

Cost Share: $49,645

Principal Investigator: Kelvin Lynn

Project Summary: The power-conversion efficiency of conventional p-type cadmium telluride absorbers is limited by relatively poor electronic properties, including low carrier lifetime, low doping levels, and challenges with back contact formation. This project aims to produce and evaluate n-type doped cadmium selenium telluride (CdSeTe) thin films that have the potential to exceed the performance of conventional absorber layers while maintaining the low manufacturing costs inherent to thin-film-module architectures. The team will use close-space sublimation and newly developed feedstock materials, followed by heat treatments in the presence of carefully chosen gases to obtain high-quality n-type CdTeSe with the enhanced electronic properties needed to create high-efficiency thin-film solar cells.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA TWIN CITIES

Project Name: Improving Energy Yield in Photovoltaic Modules With Photonic Structures

Location: Minneapolis, MN

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Vivian Ferry

Project Summary: Silicon-based photovoltaic modules operate at elevated temperatures, which can reduce the lifetime of a photovoltaic module and contribute to thermal degradation. One of the major sources of elevated temperature is the low-energy infrared light that is converted to heat within the cell. This project aims to replace the silicon nitride antireflection coating that’s used on solar cells with spectrally selective photonic structures. The new design will enable the structures to capture usable photons while rejecting those that lack the energy to produce electricity, resulting in improved energy yield for solar cells. The structures will be integrated on the top surface of the cell to avoid damage from weathering and will be fabricated with fewer layers to minimize cost.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Comparative Life-Cycle Analysis of Scalable Single-Junction and Tandem Perovskite Solar Cell Systems

Location: New York, NY

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Vasilis Fthenakis

Project Summary: This project will investigate the life-cycle impact of lead used in perovskite solar cells, and quantify environmental and health risks related to its use while exploring lead alternatives for large-scale manufacturing. The team will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the energy and resource requirements of perovskite photovoltaic systems and manufacturing within an established life-cycle-analysis framework. The team will also examine the potential for solvent recovery and reuse and end-of-life management for perovskite solar cells in order to better understand its environmental impact. The results of this project will help the industry make scalable and sustainable decisions while the efficiency and stability of perovskite solar cells are improved.

COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES 2

Project Name: Multi-Messenger In-situ Tolerance Optimization of Mixed Perovskite Photovoltaics

Location: Golden, CO

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Xerxes Steirer

Project Summary: This project will evaluate perovskite photovoltaic degradation mechanisms involving water and oxygen exposure, electrical bias, light, elevated temperature, and the loss of volatile gases. The team will perform experiments on degraded hybrid perovskites and evaluate potential solutions to prevent degradation and power loss in perovskite solar cells. Water and gas interactions with perovskite films will be probed to reveal any relevant surface bonding, activation energies, and chemical reactions. The resulting information will further the design of highly stable perovskite materials for use in future photovoltaic modules and systems.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 1

Project Name: Controlling the Recombination Activity of Dislocations in III-V Solar Cells

Location: Urbana, IL

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Minjoo Lee

Project Summary: Existing III-V manufacturing methods, such as epitaxial liftoff, that attempt to reuse costly III-V and germanium substrates over many growth cycles are too expensive to enable manufacturing at scale. One way to overcome this issue is to grow them on low-cost substrates such as silicon. This team will perform the first systematic study of III-V solar cells grown on silicon surfaces decorated with beryllium, carbon, germanium, tellurium, and other impurities in order to identify conditions that will render dislocations and other structural defects less harmful to solar cell performance. Reducing the impact of defects would improve device performance and enable the use of low-cost growth substrates in the fabrication of high-performance III-V cells and modules.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 2

Project Name: Wide-Bandgap Polycrystalline III-Vs as Transparent, Carrier-Selective Heterojunction Contacts for Silicon Photovoltaics

Location: Urbana, IL

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Minjoo Lee

Project Summary: This project will test visibly transparent III-V materials grown at low temperatures for use within the front contact of a silicon solar cell. The cell will have heterojunction contacts, which are state-of-the-art contacts that can efficiently extract voltage from silicon solar cells at high rates. The team will grow heavily doped layers of aluminum gallium phosphide and aluminum indium phosphide on textured silicon solar cells to explore the doping and defects within the cell. The team will then characterize the surface passivation and contact resistance of the most promising layers and make complete photovoltaic cells with the heterojunction contacts.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 1

Project Name: In-situ Photophysical Monitors and Corrective Algorithms for Photovoltaic Film Deposition and Rapid Thermal Processing in Scalable Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing

Location: Seattle, WA

DOE Award Amount: $198,806

Cost Share: $50,329

Principal Investigator: Devin MacKenzie

Project Summary: Low-cost, high-throughput solution processing could substantially reduce thin-film photovoltaic (PV) costs, but it requires new PV manufacturing lines using roll-to-roll processing. This project will develop and use gas flow-stabilized slot-die deposition heads and in situ, real-time optical tools to characterize the roll-to-roll deposition process used to create these PV cells. The team will use fiber-based optical probes, time-resolved photoluminescence, and light-scattering probes to better understand, for the first time, the critical phase transformations and sintering processes needed to create perovskites with roll-to-roll processing. The team will develop real-time corrective algorithms for the deposition process and use these tools to optimize roll-to-roll deposition methods for perovskites and other thin-film PV materials.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 1

Project Name: Impact of Undoped Substrates on High Performance Silicon Solar Cells

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Andre Augusto

Project Summary: This team will investigate the potential advantages of using undoped silicon wafers to make high-performance solar cells. The team will examine silicon heterojunction cell characteristics built using wafers with a range of low n- and p-type dopant concentrations, and will closely observe the transition from low-level to high-level injection in order to better understand the device physics of these cells. These studies could impact the manufacturing yield of Czochralski-grown wafers for which dopant concentration varies along the length of the ingot, and will help to better understand the effects of doping levels on light and polarization-induced degradation mechanisms. This research aims to lower the levelized cost of energy by improving photovoltaic cell and ingot manufacturing yield, silicon cell power output, and module reliability.

DNV GL

Project Name: Bifacial PV Module Energy Modeling Validation Study

Location: Oakland, CA

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Tara Doyle

Project Summary: Bifacial photovoltaic (PV) module suppliers are conducting their own efficiency tests in an effort to demonstrate energy gains to customers, but these tests often lack third-party review. To enable more accurate and bankable solar production forecasts for bifacial modules, this team will establish an outdoor test that compares modeled energy from bifacial models to measured energy generation in common types of ground or roof coverings. These tests will account for multiple scenarios for bifacial modules, including placement on painted flat roofs, placement in fields with low-lying vegetation, and soiling from dirt or sand. The team will publish the results of this analysis to improve modeling efforts, energy-yield estimates, and bankability for bifacial modules on the market.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

Project Name: Quantum-Cutting Luminescent Coatings for High-Efficiency, Low-Cost Solar Cells

Location: Seattle, WA

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Daniel Gamelin

Project Summary: This project will investigate the use of quantum-cutting down-conversion layers to be placed at the front surfaces of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells in order to remedy a major source of energy loss. The down-converting layer converts high-energy photons, which are normally reflected or inefficiently collected, into multiple lower energy photons. This enables the more efficient conversion of energy by the underlying photovoltaic material which can double the current generated by the solar cell. This project will develop and optimize quantum-cutting precursor ink formulations and large-area solution-deposition techniques. Together, these techniques will enable the integration of these high-efficiency quantum-cutting down conversion layers onto the surfaces of commercially available silicon PV cells to realize low-cost, high-efficiency PV technologies.

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Investigation of Ga2O3 as a New Transparent Conductive Oxide for Photovoltaics Applications

Location: Columbus, OH

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Tyler Grassman

Project Summary: This project will explore the use of a new material, gallium oxide (Ga2O3), as a transparent conducting oxide (TCO) layer for solar cells. TCOs are a layer within a solar cell that conduct electricity on top of the light absorbing material in the solar cell, such as cadmium telluride. As a result, the conductivity of the TCO and its transparency to the full solar spectrum are critical properties for creating a TCO that’s effective. Ga2O3 has a wide bandgap which is a property of the material that makes it transparent to the full solar spectrum. This enables more light to pass through the TCO and be absorbed by the absorbing layer that converts the photonic energy into electrical potential. To determine the applicability of Ga2O3 as a TCO for PV technologies, this team will study the deposition of this material in solar cells using tools that are commonly used in the solar industry. The team will then test the resulting optical and electronic properties of the solar cell and analyze the performance of the prototype TCO.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 6

Project Name: Sound Assisted Spalling: Wave Localization and Surface Control

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $199,999

Cost Share: $50,050

Principal Investigator: Mariana Bertoni

Project Summary: The silicon wafers in solar cells are traditionally made from sawing a large block of silicon into many thin wafers, wasting a significant amount of the source material in the process. Making these wafers without the waste due to sawing is known as kerfless wafering. This team will continue its research on a method of kerfless wafering that uses sound waves to form cracks in the silicon that can be controlled to cut the wafers from the block of silicon. Instead of planar waves, which distribute the energy all over the sample, the sound energy will be focused on the crack tip itself using a process called sonic excitation. By moving the focal point through the sample, the crack formation speed can be finely controlled to create an optimal surface for the solar cell. The team will first test this new method with silicon and then expand to gallium arsenide crystals.

LEHIGH UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Exploiting Fixed Charge at Selective Contacts for Silicon Photovoltaics

Location: Bethlehem, PA

DOE Award Amount: $200,000

Cost Share: $50,000

Principal Investigator: Nicholas Strandwitz

Project Summary: In a silicon solar cell, thin metal lines are applied to the silicon absorber that serve as electrical contacts in the solar cell. These electrical contacts must efficiently conduct current out of the absorber layer to boost solar cell performance. However, sometimes there are undesirable barriers that form between the two layers that hinder the efficient conduction of current. This team will investigate the use of alumina oxide as a fixed charge layer in the solar cell. They will apply it between the absorber layer and the front contact of the solar cell to mitigate the effect of these barriers. This project will use atomic layer deposition to grow alumina and the contact layers in the lab and will use a variety of techniques to reveal the structural, chemical, and interfacial electronic properties of the material in order to determine the suitability of this strategy for commercial PV applications.

Increasing Affordability, Reliability, and Manufacturability of PV Cells, Modules, and Systems

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Identifying Impacts of Process, Precursors and Defects in Metal Halide Perovskite Solar Cells

Location: Princeton, NJ

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Barry Rand

Project Summary: In an effort to improve the energy yield and stability of metal halide perovskite photovoltaic solar cells, this project aims to improve material selection and fabrication techniques for producing these cells. The team will identify interactions that can occur in precursor solutions or at solid interfaces that result in defects, either spontaneously or under solar cell-relevant stresses such as light, heat, atmosphere, and voltage. The team will then establish targeted strategies and processes to mitigate perovskite cell degradation by selecting optimal precursor solutions and creating robust absorbers needed to make these high-efficiency solar cells.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Project Name: Semi-Transparent, Reliable and Efficient Scalable Organic Solar Cells for Building Integrated Applications

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

DOE Award Amount: $1,300,000

Cost Share: $325,474

Principal Investigator: Stephen Forrest

Project Summary: Organic photovoltaics (OPV) are an ideal solution for semi-transparent building integrated photovoltaics for windows, building facades, and rooftops. This project will produce organic solar cells with a 15% power conversion efficiency that are 50% transparent and have a projected 20-year lifetime for building-integrated photovoltaics. This would nearly double the increase in performance compared to typical power-conversion-efficiency values at similar levels of optical transparency. The team will also use its roll-to-roll film-growth technology to continue to improve manufacturing yields and the scalability of OPV.

GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Project Name: Technology Development for Greater than 23% Efficient P-PERC Solar Cells

Location: Atlanta, GA

DOE Award Amount: $700,000

Cost Share: $175,000

Principal Investigator: Ajeet Rohatgi

Project Summary: This project will develop key technologies to achieve commercial-size passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) cells with a 23% efficiency rate from a current rate of about 22%. The team will integrate multiple technologies to create the solar cell, including spatially controlled doping profiles, passivated rear contacts, advanced annealing treatments, and high-resolution screen printing. Together, these technologies will reduce carrier recombination rates in the junction region, at the back surface field, and at the interfaces within each contact while also minimizing front shading and rear light absorption. To improve solar cell performance, the team will use the same process on n-type silicon to produce rear junction n-type cells with spatially controlled front surface fields.

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Doping CdTe and CdSeTe for Higher Efficiency

Location: Fort Collins, CO

DOE Award Amount: $750,000

Cost Share: $187,500

Principal Investigator: Walajabad Sampath

Project Summary: This will significantly enhance the voltage and efficiency of cadmium telluride and cadmium selenium telluride solar cells through p-type doping with group-V atoms. Colorado State University, with help from multiple partners including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and First Solar, will focus on using arsenic to increase the density of holes in the absorber by two orders of magnitude. The team will seek to increase the cell voltage by 100 millivolts and improve cell efficiency from 3% to 22%. The key to success will be the activation of a major portion of the dopant atoms so that they each contribute a hole to the absorber while minimizing the recombination that commonly results from nonactivated dopant atoms. The team will ensure that its cell-fabrication steps are compatible with low-cost, large-scale manufacturing.

KWH ANALYTICS

Project Name: Deciphering Degradation: Machine Learning on Real-World Performance Data

Location: San Francisco, CA

DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000

Cost Share: $500,000

Principal Investigator: Adam Shinn

Project Summary: Degradation rates are generally assumed to be the same across all photovoltaic modules leading to market inefficiencies. kWh Analytics will build a machine-learning model using its industry-wide data repository and generation data from about 20% of America’s operating photovoltaic (PV) plants, to quantify degradation rates for PV modules and analyze the impact that various materials and components have on these rates. This will enable insurers to incorporate these insights into their insurance premium pricing, which introduces a price signal to the market that benefits modules that use high-quality materials and components.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Accelerated Scaling to Rapid Open-Air Fabrication of Durable Perovskite Solar Modules

Location: San Francisco, CA

DOE Award Amount: $1,496,069

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Reinhold Dauskardt

Project Summary: This project will fabricate and encapsulate large-area and durable perovskite solar modules using a scalable open-air processing route that validates the reliability of the cell by using accelerated testing and thin-film metrics. The team’s scalable processing of durable perovskite and inorganic transport layers provides a platform to make series-integrated high-voltage perovskite solar modules entirely in open air, eliminating unstable organic transport layers. The work will mitigate barriers to wide-scale deployment of perovskite technology, namely module manufacturing and reliability, and eventually allow photovoltaic-generated electricity to reach costs as low as $0.02 per kilowatt hour.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 2

Project Name: Machine Learning Assisted Enhancement of Perovskite Stability and Performance

Location: Seattle, WA

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Hugh Hillhouse

Project Summary: High photovoltaic power conversion efficiency devices with low year-over-year degradation rates, like hybrid perovskites, have the potential to lower costs if their stability and phase segregation can be improved. In order to better determine the maximum open-circuit voltage and photocurrent a hybrid perovskite solar cell is capable of generating, this team will develop photoluminescence (PL) video methods that reveal the role of micron-scale spatial PL heterogeneity and millisecond-time-scale PL intensity flickering in material degradation and phase segregation. When combined with large composition libraries and different testing environments, they yield enormous data sets. The team plans to mine this data with advanced machine-learning algorithms in order to generate a predictive model of degradation for perovskite solar cells.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 2

Project Name: Bringing High-Efficiency Silicon Solar Cells With Heterojunction Contacts to Market with a New, Versatile Deposition Technique

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $1,000,000

Cost Share: $250,000

Principal Investigator: Zachary Holman

Project Summary: This project aims to enable manufacturable, high-performance silicon solar cells through an innovative deposition technique that will improve cell efficiency and reduce equipment and material costs. In order to arrive at the ideal contact stack that’s transparent and can easily be made with inexpensive tool and precursors, the silicon community has been experimenting with stacking new materials within solar cells. The team will develop and use a gas-flow sputter source that will be coupled with an aerosol-driven assembly tool. The team aims to use the tool to deposit any type of metal oxide carrier-selective layer or transparent conductive oxide layer with full control of the material composition, without damaging the underlying layers.

CYPRESS CREEK RENEWABLES

Project Name: Capturing the Full Benefits of Bifacial Modules to Achieve an LCOE of $0.03 per Kilowatt-hour through a Regional Optimization of the Electrical Architecture

Location: San Francisco, CA

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $396,310

Principal Investigator: Jenya Meydbray

Project Summary: Bifacial photovoltaic modules can yield efficiency gains, but the solar industry has been unable to accurately quantify the benefits of these modules at the system level, leading to uncertain cost estimates and lower adoption rates for solar energy systems that need financing. This project seeks to validate existing performance models for bifacial modules and quantify the impacts of system location, tracker height, module technology, and system architecture on bifacial efficiency gains and the projected levelized cost of energy (LCOE). This project aims to improve investor confidence by providing new data on bifacial system performance gains across the United States and will validate a holistic system architecture that allows system integrators to meet or exceed the LCOE target of $.03 per kilowatt-hour by 2030.

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Towards 50 Year Lifetime PV Modules: Glass/Backsheet vs. Double Glass

Location: Cleveland, OH

DOE Award Amount: $1,350,000

Cost Share: $337,500

Principal Investigator: Roger French

Project Summary: In order to enable photovoltaic (PV) modules to have a 50-year lifetime, researchers are exploring PV modules with double glass or glass/backsheet designs. To reduce degradation rates and extend the service lifetime of these high efficiency modules, researchers must better understand the operational conditions of solar cells within these modules. This project will use data from stepwise accelerated exposures and real-world PV systems to quantify the impact of PV module architecture and packaging materials on the degradation rates of double glass and glass/backsheet modules. Identifying and mitigating the degradation modes related to packaging materials and architectures for double glass and glass/backsheet modules could help to lower degradation rates toward 0.2% per year and lower the levelized cost of energy.

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOULDER

Project Name: Mini-Modules Made with Monolithically Integrated All-Perovskite Tandems

Location: Boulder, CO

DOE Award Amount: $1,499,764

Cost Share: $375,235

Principal Investigator: Michael McGehee

Project Summary: In collaboration with perovskite researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this team aims to make monolithic two-terminal tandem solar cells that have a 27% efficiency level and are constructed entirely from thin-film perovskite light absorbers. This would represent a roughly 20% relative increase in power-conversion efficiency over the current best-performing single-junction perovskite solar cells. The project will use scalable deposition methods such as slot-die coating, sputtering, chemical vapor deposition and thermal evaporation to fabricate perovskite solar cells that degrade by less than 10% after 1,000 hours of use.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 3

Project Name: CIGS Technology Advancement via Fundamental Modeling of Defect/Impurity Interactions

Location: Seattle, WA

DOE Award Amount: $681,016

Cost Share: $179,090

Principal Investigator: Scott Dunham

Project Summary: Copper indium gallium selenide is a promising material for high performance, low-cost thin-film photovoltaics. In order to improve conversion efficiency and lower manufacturing costs, researchers need to better understand interactions between mineral impurities and native defects, as well as how both couple to alloy ordering and phase separation within these cells. This team will use density functional theory calculations to predict distributions of defects and defect complexes, estimate reaction and diffusion rates, and perform simulations to predict alloy, impurity, and defect ordering. The team will test the resulting model and process in order to optimize device performance, reliability, and cost.

UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE

Project Name: Roll-to-roll Manufacturing of Continuous Perovskite Modules

Location: Louisville, KY

DOE Award Amount: $999,216

Cost Share: $250,459

Principal Investigator: Thad Druffel

Project Summary: Perovskite solar cell research focuses on making the material that absorbs photons, called the absorber, more durable and efficient. This project will investigate the applicability of low-cost roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques for perovskite modules. The team will employ rapid deposition and annealing techniques, which are the processes used to deposit the absorber layer onto a substrate and then heating and cooling it to toughen the absorber. The team will then study the performance of the absorber layer and use the same techniques on the remainder of the device layers. The team aims to use these techniques to create a high throughput manufacturing process for perovskite modules in a commercial roll-to-roll facility.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Project Name: Development of Efficient Perovskite/Silicon Tandem Modules

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

DOE Award Amount: $1,324,937

Cost Share: $334,703

Principal Investigator: Jinsong Huang

Project Summary: This project will focus on increasing solar cell efficiencies by using both perovskite and silicon as the semiconductors in a photovoltaic cell. This team will design and test a 6-inch by 6-inch silicon perovskite tandem cell using an inexpensive high-throughput process capable of producing 5,000 wafers per hour in a solar cell fabrication facility. This process uses a low-cost blade coating process to apply the relevant perovskite layers to make the tandem cells, leading to a lower capital expenditure required to implement this process in existing or new solar cell fabrication facilities. The resulting tandem solar cell could reach an efficiency over 30%, as compared to 25% for silicon.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

Project Name: Novel n-type Device Architectures to Achieve 1 Volt VOC in Thin Film CdTe cells

Location: Tampa, FL

DOE Award Amount: $750,000

Cost Share: $187,500

Principal Investigator: Chris Ferekides

Project Summary: Cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells are a low cost thin-film technology that has achieved commercial success in the solar market. To expand the opportunities for CdTe technologies, this project will explore a new cell design which starts with n-type CdTe instead of p-type CdTe commercially used today. This new approach, could enable higher efficiency levels than the CdTe cells currently being mass produced. The team will use industrially relevant deposition techniques to demonstrate that the fabrication of n-CdTe solar cells is possible at scale with efficiencies approaching 25%, an increase of 2% from current world record CdTe solar cells.

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Improved Solar Cell Performance and Reliability through Advanced Defect Characterization and Growth Studies

Location: Columbus, OH

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Aaron Arehart

Project Summary: Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) photovoltaic solar cells experience defects that reduce efficiency but researchers have been unable to eliminate these defects. If resolved, efficiency could improve as much as 4% from approximately 19% to approximately 23%. This team will connect the measured defects to their physical sources using chemical and nano-structural techniques and other photoluminescence-based techniques. Using advanced, physics-based modeling, the team will identify and test CIGS growth conditions of the absorber layer in order to improve cell performance, lower device instabilities, and lower degradation rates which could improve reliability and lower the levelized cost of energy.

UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

Project Name: Quantifying and Valuing Fundamental Characteristics and Benefits of Floating Photovoltaic (FPV) Systems

Location: Cocoa, FL

DOE Award Amount: $750,000

Cost Share: $187,500

Principal Investigator: John Sherwin

Project Summary: Floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems are photovoltaic systems that are sited directly on bodies of water. The FPV market is expected to grow globally but there’s limited research about ways to improve designs and reduce costs. This project will address key FPV research gaps through a combination of field testing and computational activities that leverage existing FPV installations to provide data and insights for design and cost analysis. Potential benefits to PV system efficiency will be assessed as well as the ecological impacts of FPV on water bodies. Tradeoffs of system designs on FPV viability in different regions, impacts of FPV systems on grid interactions and reliability, and the value of pairing FPV with energy storage systems will also be assessed.

UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES

Project Name: A Data-Driven Approach to Real-World Degradation of Backsheets

Location: Northbrook, IL

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Kenneth Boyce

Project Summary: The backsheet of a solar photovoltaic module is the backing of the module. In combination with the front glass sheet, the backsheet helps to seal the PV module from the outside world. The backsheet is typically made of multiple layers of various types of polymers, a type of plastic, and can degrade over time from climate conditions, making its design an important predictor for how long a solar module can last in the field. However, current accelerated tests for backsheet degradation and the lifetime performance of the module have limitations. This team will employ a data-driven approach to analyze backsheet degradation for modules in the field in order to better understand the real-world environmental stresses of airborne pollution, solar irradiance, water, temperature, and abrasion on module performance. The team will use a large sample size to model and quantify the variance in degradation rates and link these to the backsheet materials being studied. This information will help inform a variety of stakeholders in the solar industry and could enable the development of more accurate standards for PV modules.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 7

Project Name: Understanding Defect Activation and Kinetics in Next Generation CdTe Absorbers

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $700,000

Cost Share: $175,140

Principal Investigator: Mariana Bertoni

Project Summary: This project aims to improve the understanding of defects in cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar cells by revealing new information about the way defects form when the semiconductor is treated with chlorine or doped as part of the fabrication process. Doping and chlorine treatment in CdTe solar cell fabrication are both critical processes but advances to these processes often cancel each other out, which results in the open circuit voltage of the solar cell remaining stagnant. The team will focus on using nanoscale X-ray imaging techniques and novel spectroscopic approaches to visualize the formation of defects during chlorine treatment under various conditions. The team will use this information to optimize the process to make these cells, improving open circuit voltage and helping to drive down costs.

INSTITUTE FOR BUILDING TECHNOLOGY AND SAFETY

Project Name: Application of Manufacturing Quality Management Systems to PV Design and Installation

Location: Ashburn, VA

DOE Award Amount: $1,490,758

Cost Share: $377,956

Principal Investigator: Richard Lawrence

Project Summary: This team will develop an independent quality management system for photovoltaic (PV) installations which is low cost and accessible to local and regional PV installers. Third-party inspections for systems can be costly and inconsistent across the industry. This team will standardize quality control processes, enable remote review of PV systems through photos and documents, and implement an industry-recognized quality scoring system for participating installers. The team will work with a broad group of industry stakeholders to define and test the software’s functionality. Through use of the product, installers will increase the quality of their projects, which will in turn increase the overall value of PV systems across their lifetime and improve investor confidence in the solar asset class over time.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

Project Name: Investigation of Defect Physics for Efficient, Durable and Ubiquitous Perovskite Solar Modules

Location: Los Angeles, CA

DOE Award Amount: $1,000,000
Cost Share: $250,000

Principal Investigator: Yang Yang

Project Summary: In order to push perovskite solar cells closer to their theoretical limit of efficiency and durability, researchers need to better understand and control defects in the perovskite material and at the surface of the layers in the cell. These defects are the source of losses in the cell’s open circuit voltage and can cause degradation in the solar cell over time. This project will develop physical models of defect-induced types of degradation, both on the surface and in the bulk perovskite material. The team will conduct a blend of computational and experimental studies on critical defect types and densities within the perovskite material when there’s heat, light, increased voltage, or moisture present. The team will then use in-depth characterization techniques to quantify the chemical and electronic properties of defects in order to improve defect manipulation techniques that could increase perovskite cell efficiency.

Collaborative Cross-Cutting PV Research

AMTECH SYSTEMS, INC.

Project Name: Field-Effect Passivation by Desired Charge Injection into SiNx Passivation in Crystalline-Silicon Solar Cells

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $1,120,000

Cost Share: $280,000

Principal Investigator: Jeong-Mo Hwang

Project Summary: This team developed a low-cost plasma-charging technology that can be used for field-effect passivation in crystalline silicon solar cells and to increase efficiency. The technology uses an inexpensive inert gas plasma that does not cause film deposition or corrosion inside the chamber during charging and does not require regular cleaning of the chamber. To enable the commercial use of this tool, the team will work to mitigate the loss of injected charges during the high-temperature metal-firing process and increase the stability of injected charges by mitigating optical and electronic degradation pathways. These efforts have the potential to enable contact deposition that matches the high performance of aluminum oxide while maintaining the low production costs of conventional passivation materials.

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Project Name: Low-Cost, High-Efficiency III-V Photovoltaics Enabled By Remote Epitaxy through Graphene

Location: Cambridge, MA

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Jeehwan Kim

Project Summary: This project will develop low-cost, high-throughput, and high-efficiency multijunction photovoltaics (PV) by leveraging remote epitaxy and a 2-dimensional layer transfer process that uses hybrid vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE). This manufacturing method allows the growth of defect-free single-crystalline films that can be easily separated from the substrate. The substrate, which is expensive, can be infinitely reused by copying the crystalline information from the substrate through graphene. To validate the feasibility of this method, tandem PV cells will be grown and characterized to achieve maximum power conversion efficiency levels. In addition, the HVPE technique will enable high-throughput epitaxy at low costs, helping to produce PV cells at manufacturing scale.

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

Project Name: Novel and Effective Surface Passivation for High-Efficiency N- and P-Type Silicon Solar Cells

Location: Newark, DE

DOE Award Amount: $800,000

Cost Share: $200,000

Principal Investigator: Ujjwal Das

Project Summary: Passivation of surface defects is key to achieving high-efficiency silicon solar cells. This project aims to achieve superior surface and cell performance in silicon photovoltaics by using sulfur and selenium compounds to passivate the silicon surface and enable high open circuit voltage. The team will analyze sulfur and selenium surface behavior using advanced X-ray and capacitive characterization methods for advanced cell design applications, such as p-type passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) and n-type passivated emitter rear totally diffused (PERT) structures, where voltage has traditionally been a major limiting parameter.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 3

Project Name: Diagnosing and Overcoming Recombination and Resistive Losses In Non-Silicon Solar Cells Using a Silicon-Inspired Characterization Platform

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Zachary Holman

Project Summary: The goal of this project is to develop a characterization platform for non-silicon-based devices in order to gather a precise accounting of power losses that limit device performance. While tools and techniques for silicon-based devices are available, there aren’t comparable ones for non-silicon devices. Novel amorphous silicon contacts applied to cadmium telluride absorbers will be characterized using multiple bulk and interface loss-analysis methods. Using this methodology, the team will examine a wider range of absorber materials and create a platform that enables users to rapidly and accurately assess the quality of a wide range of bulk materials and surface passivation layers, including contact selectivity and contact resistivity.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 4

Project Name: Reliability Evaluation of Bifacial and Monofacial Glass/Glass Modules with Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Non-EVA Encapsulants

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Govindasamy Tamizhmani

Project Summary: Photovoltaic modules with glass/glass encapsulation are expected to be more resistant to breakage and degradation than glass/backsheet modules. However, many glass/glass-module architectures continue to use ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) as an internal encapsulant, and EVA has been linked to significant life-limiting reliability issues, including glass cracking, encapsulant delamination, and encapsulant browning. This project will assess the merits and shortcomings of glass/glass modules with EVA and non-EVA encapsulants by evaluating new and field-aged modules. The team will then evaluate the expected reliability of these modules using indoor and outdoor accelerated tests.

SWIFT SOLAR

Project Name: High-Throughput Vapor Deposition for Perovskite-Perovskite Tandem Modules

Location: Golden, CO

DOE Award Amount: $750,000

Cost Share: $500,000

Principal Investigator: Joel Jean

Project Summary: Perovskite-perovskite tandem photovoltaic solar cells offer an opportunity to obtain high efficiency levels while maintaining the low-cost and high-throughput manufacturing potential enabled by thin-film perovskite materials. This team will adapt an already commercially proven vapor deposition technique and test its use with perovskites at industrial scale for the first time. This will technique could be an alternative to the widely used solution-based perovskite growth methods. The team aims to validate the vapor deposition method and produce a tandem module with an efficiency that’s greater than 25%.

UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO

Project Name: Ultra-High Efficiency and Stable All-Perovskite Tandem Solar Cells

Location: Toledo, OH

DOE Award Amount: $1,100,000

Cost Share: $275,000

Principal Investigator: Yanfa Yan

Project Summary: This team will develop processes and strategies to fabricate high efficiency and stable perovskite-perovskite thin-film tandem solar cells. The team aims to develop efficient wide-bandgap perovskite cells with high open circuit voltages for the top layer of the tandem while also developing efficient low-bandgap cells for the bottom layer. The team will then develop efficient interconnecting semiconductor layers with low optical and electrical losses and study potential ways that these perovskite-perovskite tandem cells could degrade over time. The team will use this information to develop approaches to mitigate instability issues in perovskite-perovskite tandem cells in order to increase lifetime and lower costs, with the aim of developing a cell with greater than 25% efficiency.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

Project Name: Approaching the Radiative Efficiency Limit in Perovskite Solar Cells with Scalable Defect Passivation and Selective Contacts

Location: Seattle, WA

DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000

Cost Share: $312,500

Principal Investigator: David Ginger

Project Summary: This project will focus on using low-cost techniques to develop perovskite solar cells that approach the radiative efficiency limit in order to reach the maximum possible performance for these cells. The radiative efficiency limit of solar cells is the limit at which no photons absorbed by the cell are lost to heat producing defects. In order to achieve this goal, researchers must better understand defects in the perovskite material and invent new ways to passivate, or deactivate, these defects. In order to improve the efficiency and lifetimes of perovskite solar cells, it’s important to be able to passivate defects that arise in low-cost manufacturing environments. The team will use novel optical and microscopic probes to provide insight into the defects currently produced during perovskite cell production and then develop scalable layers to add to the solar cell to passivate these defects.

Innovative Pathways: Photovoltaics

GROUNDSWELL

Project Name: Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere (LIFT Solar Everywhere)

Location: Washington, DC

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000

Cost Share: $375,000

Principal Investigator: Lori Michelle Moore

Project Summary: This team will assess the replicability and scalability of a variety of solar financing models that could enable greater solar access, including: a private finance option similar to a utility credit structure; a “pay as you save” structure that pays for solar with shared savings; and a credit enhancement model that leverages alternative financing like loss reserves offered through foundations, municipal authorities, or public-private partnerships. The team will analyze adoption rates and performance data from ongoing projects, with an eye toward optimizing the models for scale.

INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE AND SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY (ICAST)

Project Name: Developing and Piloting Solar Financing Models to Expand PV Access to Low and Moderate Income Americans

Location: Lakewood, CO

DOE Award Amount: $999,935

Cost Share: $256,454

Principal Investigator: Ravi Malhotra

Project Summary: This team will partner with utilities, multifamily affordable housing (MFAH) projects, and private investors to create and validate an aggregated shared solar financing model. This financing model aims to reduce project costs and risks, which has prevented MFAH solar development.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY 5

Project Name: Developing Socially and Economically Generative, Resilient PV-Energy Systems for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities: Applications to Puerto Rico

Location: Tempe, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $1,229,307

Cost Share: $307,328

Principal Investigator: Clark Miller

Project Summary: The project team will work to develop innovative approaches and models to enable Puerto Rico’s low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities to better understand how they can use solar energy to improve resilience and energy affordability. The team will analyze and model different approaches for expanding solar energy access, including household, business, community, and utility-based solar solutions. Researchers will map the solar opportunity for LMI communities in Puerto Rico and conduct deeper analysis of specific representative communities.

GRID ALTERNATIVES

Project Name: Revolving Program Related Investments Energy Savings Fund

Location: Oakland, CA

DOE Award Amount: $999,470

Cost Share: $2,022,801

Principal Investigator: Jake Bobrow

Project Summary: The team will design, build, test, and scale an innovative financing and project-development model that could expand photovoltaic access to low- and moderate-income Americans. The model, which incorporates new sources of capital, aims to lower solar electricity costs and reduce creditworthiness as a barrier of entry, particularly in the development of multifamily rooftop and ground-mounted community solar projects that are 50-500 kilowatts.

SOLSTICE INITIATIVE

Project Name: Product Innovation to Increase Low-to-Moderate-Income Customers’ Adoption of Community Solar PV

Location: Cambridge, MA

DOE Award Amount: $1,500,000
Cost Share: $500,000

Principal Investigator: Stephanie Speirs

Project Summary: Approximately 77% of U.S. households cannot access rooftop solar and 40% of homes earning less than $40,000 per year only make up less than 5% of U.S. solar installations. Low- and moderate-income (LMI) households are often excluded from community solar because of information asymmetries, prohibitively high credit score requirements, and restrictive contract terms. This project aims to expand photovoltaic solar access to households by evaluating the use of an alternate credit score, previously developed by Solstice Initiative, and performing tests to understand the most suitable contract terms for different LMI customer segments. The project will explore ways to deploy alternative capital in partnership with foundations, community development financial institutions, and others to produce and pilot a suite of community and shared solar contracts that can meet the needs of LMI households. The team will then perform rigorous data analysis concerning the factors that affect the financial viability of LMI-inclusive projects. This will help to expand the solar market, lower customer acquisition costs, and increase solar affordability.

CLEAN ENERGY STATES ALLIANCE

Project Name: Bringing LMI Solar Financing Models to Scale

Location: Montpelier, VT

DOE Award Amount: $1,103,239
Cost Share: $277,250

Principal Investigator: Warren Leon

Project Summary: There have been several pilot and small-scale efforts to tackle the challenges of financing low- to moderate- income (LMI) projects, but there hasn’t been a multi-state or region-wide initiative. This project will research three new solar program designs and associated financing models to expand and scale solar access to low- and moderate-income single family homes, mobile homes, and multifamily homes. This project will focus on analyzing the outcomes of these newly piloted business models then, when appropriate, assessing how they could be scaled to multiple states. Specifically, the team will analyze: the Connecticut Green Bank model to serve LMI single family homeowners; the New Mexico state model to develop “PV on a pole” prototypes that can be inexpensively manufactured and installed widely at mobile homes; and the Clean Energy Group model to work with affordable housing organizations to use non-government funded loan guarantees and other strategies to finance solar and solar plus battery storage for multifamily affordable housing buildings.

SETO FY2018 – Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power

The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 (SETO FY2018) funding program addresses the affordability, flexibility, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. This program funds early-stage research projects that advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies and supports efforts that prepare the solar workforce for the industry’s future needs.

On October 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $53 million in funding for 53 projects in the SETO FY2018 funding program. Of those projects, 15 will focus on CSP research and development. Read the announcement. On March 22, 2019, an additional $28 million in funding was announced for 25 projects, 6 of which will focus on CSP research and development.

Approach

Projects in the CSP research and development topic support progress toward achieving a 50% cost reduction by 2030 and will focus on advancing components found in CSP sub-systems, including collectors, power cycles, and thermal transport systems, while pursuing new methods for introducing innovation to CSP research.

Objectives

Projects in this funding program will strengthen the innovation ecosystem across the country and work toward achieving the office’s 2030 cost targets. Technical projects will work toward developing new technologies and solutions capable of lowering solar electricity costs for CSP.

Selectees

Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations

Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): Concentrating Solar Power

LUCENT OPTICS, INC.

Project Name: Flat Focusing Mirrors for Concentrating Solar Power

Location: Sacramento, CA

DOE Award Amount: $400,000

Cost Share: $100,000

Principal Investigator: Sergey Vasylyev

Project Summary: To reduce the cost and improve the performance of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, Lucent Optics will investigate the feasibility of making flat focusing mirrors using a thin light-focusing film (LFF) on a planar reflective substrate. The team will produce a fully functional pilot-prototype of a flat focusing mirror measuring 0.5 meters by 0.5 meters that can be scaled to full-size CSP collectors. Planar focusing mirrors that use LFF can replace many types of traditional CSP collectors, providing a new pathway for further CSP cost reduction and performance improvement.

SUNDOG SOLAR TECHNOLOGY

Project Name: Development of a Front-Surface CSP Reflector Using Ultra-Barrier Technology

Location: Arvada, CO

DOE Award Amount: $321,000

Cost Share: $81,000

Principal Investigator: Randy Gee

Project Summary: Sundog Solar Technology and its project partners, Helicon Thin Film Systems, Erickson International, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will develop a high-performance, lower-cost solar reflector for concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. The design of this new reflector moves the silver from the back of the glass to the front of it, allowing for more efficient reflection without sacrificing product lifetime. The reflector will also have a novel coating that can withstand both ultraviolet radiation from the sun and impact from scrubbing the mirrors clean. High-volume manufacturability is critical to achieving low costs, so this reflector will be constructed using roll-to-roll manufacturing methods. The team will start by creating laboratory-scale reflector specimens and then develop the manufacturing techniques for these reflectors.

DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

Project Name: Thermodynamically Stable, Plasmonic Transition Metal Oxide Nanoparticle Solar Selective Absorbers Towards 95% Optical-to-Thermal Conversion Efficiency at 750° Celsius

Location: Hanover, NH

DOE Award Amount: $400,000

Cost Share: $100,000

Principal Investigator: Jifeng Liu

Project Summary: This project aims to achieve an optical-to-thermal conversion efficiency of 95% for concentrating solar-thermal power receivers using a spray-coated solar selective coating. Specifically, plasmonic metal oxide nanoparticles are thermodynamically stable at 750° Celsius and will be used to improve the coupling of incident light with the metal’s electrons, thereby improving receiver efficiency. The team will test whether optimizing the plasmonics response of transition metal components increases the optical-to-thermal conversion efficiency to 95%. The project will break through the current efficiency limit of about 89% and resolve deterioration issues in high-temperature solar absorbers without increasing the costs.

PURDUE UNIVERSITY 1

Project Name: Mitigation of Molten Salt Corrosion

Location: West Lafayette, IN

DOE Award Amount: $400,000

Cost Share: $100,000

Principal Investigator: Kenneth Sandhage

Project Summary: When molten chloride salts are used for high-temperature heat transfer and storage, structural metal alloys and ceramic composites, the materials used to store many tons of molten salt, can experience corrosion at high temperatures if the chlorides are contaminated with dissolved oxygen or water vapor. Corrosion is the most likely source of failure for chloride salt heat transfer fluids in a concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) system. This project aims to dramatically reduce corrosion for CSP systems by developing novel chemistries of the molten chloride salts, and will show that minimal corrosion can be achieved with appropriate containment materials.

PURDUE UNIVERSITY 2

Project Name: Mechanically, Thermally, and Chemically Robust High-Temperature Ceramic Composites

Location: West Lafayette, IN

DOE Award Amount: $400,000

Cost Share: $100,000

Principal Investigator: Kenneth Sandhage

Project Summary: The purpose of this project is to increase the thermal-to-electrical conversion efficiency of concentrating solar power systems by developing new mechanically robust, thermally conductive, and thermally cyclable ceramic composites used to make chloride salt heat exchangers and piping. Currently, no cost-effective solution exists for either of these components at high temperatures. These composites will be stiffer and stronger than nickel-based superalloys at 550° to 750° Celsius and also resistant to corrosion by supercritical carbon dioxide air, and heat transfer and storage fluids, such as molten chlorides. The team will also test the manufacturability of these robust ceramic composites in complex shapes via scalable, low-cost forming and thermal treatments.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO

Project Name: High-Entropy Ceramic Coatings: Transformative New Materials for Environmentally Compatible Thin-Film Insulators against High-Temperature Molten Salts

Location: La Jolla, CA

DOE Award Amount: $400,000

Cost Share: $100,000

Principal Investigator: Jian Luo

Project Summary: This project will develop high-entropy ceramics (HEC) as a new type of insulating and protective coating material for metal alloys used in high-temperature piping and containment. HEC is a class of materials made up of several elements in relatively equal proportions, whereas typical ceramics and alloys are made up of one or two predominant elements. An effective, low-cost protective coating like HEC could substantially reduce the need for expensive, high-temperature superalloys. In order to develop and select the best material, the team will measure thermal conductivities of HEC compositions and examine their stabilities against molten nitrate, carbonate, and halide salts. This will optimize HEC composition and processing, helping to further reduce their thermal conductivities, which increases performance in high-temperature environments and lowers costs.

VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND STATE UNIVERSITY 1

Project Name: Durable and Low-Cost Fractal Structured Multifunctional Coatings for Next Generation CSP

Location: Blacksburg, VA

DOE Award Amount: $399,991

Cost Share: $100,102

Principal Investigator: Ranga Pitchumani

Project Summary: This project team will develop fractal-textured barrier coatings for conventional, low-cost alloys like stainless steel to protect against corrosion from supercritical carbon dioxide, molten chloride, and carbonate salts used in concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Multiscaled, fractal textured surfaces can be fabricated directly on the underlying material using a process called electrodeposition, helping to create a robust and durable coating that preserves the thermal properties of the substrate. The textured surfaces of the coating will prevent wetting of the corrosive fluids with the surface, leading to a lower power requirement to pump fluids, less corrosion and wear, and reduced heat loss. This will help to increase the overall efficiency and lifetime of a CSP plant.

UNIVERSITY OF UTAH

Project Name: Volumetrically Absorbing Thermal Insulator For Monolithic High-Temperature Microchannel Receiver Modules

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

DOE Award Amount: $400,000

Cost Share: $100,000

Principal Investigator: Sameer Rao

Project Summary: The thermal efficiency of concentrating solar power receivers is limited by optical and thermal losses. This project will develop a novel, low-cost, high-temperature, and chemically stable receiver design, based on a porous matrix of refractory ceramics, that can absorb concentrated solar light throughout its 3-dimensional volume. This design can potentially substantially reduce optical and thermal losses relative to the 2-dimensional surface of the tubes that are currently used as receivers. The team will develop a high-performance receiver that operates at over 720° Celsius, has a thermal efficiency rate above 92%, and maintains excellent thermo-mechanical and thermo-chemical stability. The team will validate the design through computations and then experimentally at the lab-scale.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN 1

Project Name: Robust and Spectrally-Selective Aerogels for Solar Receivers

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

DOE Award Amount: $260,000

Cost Share: $65,000

Principal Investigator: Andrej Lenert

Project Summary: Efficient conversion of sunlight at high temperatures requires both absorption of sunlight and retention of heat from escaping in the form of radiation, convection, and conduction. The team will develop a transparent, thermally insulating aerogel cover that enables a concentrating solar thermal-power receiver to operate more efficiently at high temperatures. This aerogel cover would be transparent to sunlight and able to absorb thermal radiation. The proposed aerogel wouldn’t require selective surfaces or a vacuum for attachment and would enable better thermal resistance at high temperatures. The aerogel cover will be developed and tested in order to minimize thermal losses and improve thermal stability.

Advanced CSP Collectors

SOLARRESERVE, LLC

Project Name: HelioSR3 - Fully Autonomous Heliostat System for SolarReserve Exceeding Gen3 Targets

Location: Santa Monica, CA

DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000

Cost Share: $500,000

Principal Investigator: David Haas

Project Summary: SolarReserve aims to create HelioSR3, a new heliostat system that aims to lower costs and improve the performance of solar collectors in concentrating solar-thermal power systems that use power towers. SolarReserve will work with partners in academia to develop the new smaller heliostat, which will experience lower wind loads and result in lower loss of light from the collector field and reduced installation costs. SolarReserve will also work with the National Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories to optimize the optical properties and enhance other capabilities of the smaller heliostats, including automated calibration and alignment, tracking error corrections, and self-diagnostics.

UNIVERSITY OF TULSA

Project Name: Development of a Microvascular Power Tower Receiver Using a Carbon Composite

Location: Tulsa, OK

DOE Award Amount: $1,277,345

Cost Share: $319,337

Principal Investigator: Michael Keller

Project Summary: This project will develop and characterize a novel material and fabrication method that can be used in advanced concentrating solar-thermal power receivers. To enhance the transfer of thermal energy from the sun into the heat transfer fluid, the team will create a polymer-fiber composite that integrates microchannels within the material to form a light-weight, highly absorptive material. The team will form channels within a composite material and then add carbon to it to create a mechanically robust carbon-carbon composite that has an absorptivity of 95-96% without the application of an additional coating. Compared to steal or nickel alloy receiver systems, the proposed system could lower manufacturing costs, increase higher heat transfer efficiency, and provide mechanical reliability at temperatures well above 700° Celsius.

EDISUN MICROGRIDS

Project Name: Design and Develop a Novel Heliostat Gear System and Supporting Field Control System

Location: Pasadena, CA

DOE Award Amount: $1,234,084

Cost Share: $320,000

Principal Investigator: Steve Schell

Project Summary: Heliostats are nearly flat mirrors that track the sun and concentrate the sunlight onto a fixed target atop a tower, called a receiver, in order to generate heat that’s used in concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) plants. A utility-scale power tower CSP system could have more than 100,000 heliostats. The efficiency of this collector field is determined by how well each heliostat tracks the sun and maintains accuracy even when it’s windy. Traditional cost reduction strategies have focused on developing larger heliostats with more mirror surface area on each unit, making the mirrors even more susceptible to wind. This project will pair smaller mirrors that can more precisely track the sun with an inexpensive novel gear train as the foundation of the heliostat. The team will also develop and test a monitoring and tracking system to ensure each of the heliostats is performing as expected.

Advanced Power Cycles for CSP

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS

Project Name: Additively-Manufactured Molten Salt-to-Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Heat Exchanger

Location: Davis, CA

DOE Award Amount: $2,219,315

Cost Share: $582,988

Principal Investigator: Vinod Narayanan

Project Summary: This team seeks to develop an additively manufactured, nickel superalloy primary heat exchanger (PHX) for advanced molten salt concentrated solar-thermal power (CSP) systems. The PHX will be made using nickel superalloys and laser powder bed 3-D printing, resulting in a compact design that is durable under cyclic operation at high temperatures and pressures in a corrosive salt environment. During the first phase of the project, different alloy powders will be fabricated and characterized and then tested, both in conditions representative of Generation 3 CSP systems—720° Celsius and supercritical carbon dioxide pressures of 200 bar—and at conditions relevant to current commercial systems—molten nitrate salt at temperatures up to 550° Celsius. The team aims to validate a thermal model that can predict performance in a chloride salt environment and plans to use this model to develop a 20-kilowatt design to test the mechanical integrity of the fabricated PHX.

COMPREX, LLC

Project Name: 740H Diffusion Bonded Compact Heat Exchanger for High Temperature and Pressure Applications

Location: De Pere, WI

DOE Award Amount: $1,242,525

Cost Share: $317,174

Principal Investigator: Zhijun Jia

Project Summary: There is growing demand for high-temperature, high-pressure heat exchangers that can meet the stressful operating requirements of novel supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycles systems in a way that’s cost-effective at commercial scale. CompRex has developed a heat exchanger design using 740H, a new alloy that can endure significantly higher stress at temperatures over 700° Celsius, making it ideal for use with supercritical carbon dioxide cycles. In collaboration with Special Metals, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Advanced Vacuum Systems, CompRex seeks to develop a manufacturing process for producing 740H printed circuit heat exchangers using its proprietary ShimRex® flow path design. This design will address the challenges that the material poses in etching and diffusion bonding that prevent the cost-effective manufacturing of 740H heat exchangers.

GE GLOBAL RESEARCH 1

Project Name: Additively Manufacturing Recuperators via Direct Metal Laser Melting and Binder Jet Technology

Location: Niskayuna, NY

DOE Award Amount: $1,400,000

Cost Share: $350,000

Principal Investigator: William Gerstler

Project Summary: This team will develop additive manufacturing processes for the heat exchangers used in supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles in concentrating solar-thermal power plants. To overcome the expensive manufacturing process for heat exchangers, the team will use binder jet printing, a type of additive manufacturing, to significantly lower costs and enable new heat exchanger geometries, such as 3-D channels, and curved features not accessible using traditional fabrication processes. The team will then evaluate the new process and determine if it’s capable of producing CSP compatible power cycles that cost $900 per kilowatt or less. The team will also perform mechanical tests to ensure that the resulting heat exchangers can withstand the high operating temperatures and pressures of the sCO2 power cycle. The team will also create a risk reduction plan for scaling the heat exchanger design from lab-scale to a full-scale, including, a modular design.

GE GLOBAL RESEARCH 2

Project Name: Gas Lubricated Bearings for Drivetrain in sCO2 Cycle

Location: Niskayuna, NY

DOE Award Amount: $2,373,442

Cost Share: $593,361

Principal Investigator: Jason Mortzheim

Project Summary: This project will de-risk a novel bearing design for the turbines used in concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants with supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles. The bearing is a critical component that ensures the turbine, which converts heat into mechanical energy, performs reliably and at a high efficiency level. The turbine is the greatest single contributor to the sCO2 cycle’s efficiency. These bearings must be durable and able to withstand the high temperatures and pressures associated with next generation sCO2 power cycles. The team will then perform mechanical tests and simulate rotor tests in order to optimize the design for CSP plants that provide consistent baseload power or operate as a rapidly-responding peaker plant. The team will perform technoeconomic analysis to determine if the design can achieve a 50% efficient power cycle in order to lower costs to $.05 per kilowatt-hour.

SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE 1

Project Name: Development of a High-Efficiency Hybrid Dry Cooler System for sCO2 Power Cycles in CSP Applications

Location: San Antonio, TX

DOE Award Amount: $1,550,000

Cost Share: $387,500

Principal Investigator: Tim Allison

Project Summary: This project aims to develop a compact dry cooling heat exchanger for supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles in concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants. Dry cooling drastically reduces the water used by power plants. However, it can reduce the thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency of the power cycle. An efficient heat exchange between sCO2 and ambient air can both conserve water while maintaining peak power cycle performance. The team will create and optimize a dry cooling heat exchanger with microchannels on the sCO2 side and a geometry that uses plates and finned chambers on the air side. The team will test the dry cooling system at the megawatt-scale with an sCO2 test loop, in order to determine the reliability of the fabrication method, validate the performance of the heat exchanger geometry, and show that the new dry cooling concept is compatible with an efficient CSP plant. These improvements could reduce the cooler cost from $168 per kilowatt to $95 per kilowatt and reduce cooling power consumption in CSP plants by 14%.

SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE 2

Project Name: High-Temperature Dry-Gas Seal Development and Testing for sCO2 Power Cycle Turbomachinery

Location: San Antonio, TX

DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000

Cost Share: $500,000

Principal Investigator: Jason Wilkes

Project Summary: Concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants with supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles requires a mechanical seal to prevent working fluid leaks and support efficient operations. The increased temperatures and pressures of the sCO2 power cycle requires a novel seal design to support a target thermal-to-electric power conversion efficiency of 50%. This project will develop a high-temperature dry gas seal (DGS) by replacing the temperature sensitive elements with more durable components, enabling the DGS to reach operating temperatures over 500° Celsius and enable the higher efficiency levels. Because the DGS design would also be significantly smaller in size, the DGS would reduce the complexity of the sCO2 turbine design, helping to increase operation reliability and improve turbine efficiency.

Advanced CSP Thermal Transport System and Components

COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES 1

Project Name: Narrow-Channel, Fluidized Beds for Effective Particle Thermal Energy Transport and Storage

Location: Golden, CO

DOE Award Amount: $1,858,170

Cost Share: $464,712

Principal Investigator: Gregory Jackson

Project Summary: Using particles to replace the heat transfer fluid in a concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) system may be the simplest way to increase the operation temperature and therefore increase the power cycle efficiency of a CSP plant. Colorado School of Mines will work with Sandia National Laboratories and Carbo Ceramics to develop and test a narrow-channel, counterflow fluidized bed receiver and heat exchanger designs. These will be used to analyze flow conditions and improve heat transfer rates in the receiver and heat exchanger. The team will then use these insights to test a modular panel for an indirect particle receiver and/or particle to supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle heat exchanger. The program will deliver detailed multiphase flow modeling tools to assess how receiver and heat exchanger designs can meet receiver cost targets of $150 per kilowatt hours of heat and thermal-energy system targets of $15 per kilowatt hours of heat.

VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND STATE UNIVERSITY 2

Project Name: Fractal Nanostructured Solar Selective Surfaces For Next Generation Concentrating Solar Power

Location: Blacksburg, VA

DOE Award Amount: $903,045

Cost Share: $225,764

Principal Investigator: Ranga Pitchumani

Project Summary: This project aims to increase the thermal efficiency of solar receivers by fabricating multiscale fractal nano- and micro-structured high-temperature coatings that can be applied to the receiver in a concentrating solar-thermal power system. Called a selective solar surface, this multiscale surface has texturing, which could enable the coating to enhance light trapping in the solar receiver, improve energy absorption, and eliminate the need for anti-reflection coatings. The team seeks to develop durable solar selective surfaces that enable absorption efficiency rates greater than 90% at temperatures higher than 750° Celsius, and with a degradation rate of less than .2% per 1,000 hours.

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Project Name: Sensing and Arresting Metal Corrosion in Molten Chloride Salts at 800° Celsius

Location: Tuscon, AZ

DOE Award Amount: $800,000

Cost Share: $200,000

Principal Investigator: Dominic Gervasio

Project Summary: This team proposes new approaches to mitigating corrosion from molten chloride salts in concentrating solar-thermal power systems. This project will investigate the potential of using metal salt additives to slow the loss of specific metals from piping; zirconium metal structures to remove impurities in the molten salt loop; and novel corrosion warning and controlling devices that can detect corrosion and switch salt flows. If successful, this project will show the feasibility of multiple new methods for sensing and stopping corrosion in advanced molten chloride salts for next-generation concentrated solar-thermal power thermal transport systems.

SETO FY2018 – Workforce Initiatives

The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 (SETO FY2018) funding program addresses the affordability, flexibility, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. This program funds early-stage research projects that advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies and supports efforts that prepare the solar workforce for the industry’s future needs.

On October 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $53 million in funding for 53 projects in the SETO FY2018 funding program. Of those projects, seven will focus on workforce initiatives. Read the announcement. On March 22, 2019, an additional $28 million in funding was announced for 25 projects, one of which will focus on workforce initiatives.

Approach

Projects in the workforce initiatives topic seek to prepare the solar industry for a digital future and modern grid while also increasing the number of veterans and other participants in the solar industry.

Objectives

Workforce projects will help prepare the industry for its future needs through programs that are designed to help utility professionals manage a modern grid and increase the number of veterans and other talent pools in the industry.

Selectees

Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations

Expanding the Solar Workforce

MIDWEST RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION

Project Name: Solar Ready Wisconsin

Location: Custer, WI

DOE Award Amount: $800,000

Cost Share: $900,000

Principal Investigator: Nick Hylla

Project Summary: The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) will lead Solar Ready Wisconsin, an initiative that will support the development of a statewide network of industry stakeholders, training providers, and nonprofit organizations working to develop solar workforce capacity in Wisconsin and the surrounding region. In collaboration with a network of local community colleges, MREA will create a program called the Wisconsin Solar Corps to provide job training and facilitate job placement for qualified candidates in the solar industry. Once a successful model has been developed, MREA will work to make Solar Ready Wisconsin a replicable program that has the potential to be used across the Midwest.

BLUE LAKE RANCHERIA

Project Name: Multi-Sector Solar Career Training Initiative for Native Americans and Veterans

Location: Blue Lake, CA

DOE Award Amount: $600,000

Cost Share: N/A

Principal Investigator: Stephen Kullmann

Project Summary: This project will provide integrated solar-career training for Native Americans, veterans, and Native American veterans. Blue Lake Rancheria will offer workshops, training, and hands-on learning experiences for a variety of solar-related skill sets. The training will emphasize cross-sector skill building as well as the needs and experiences of veterans and Native Americans. Trainings will be tailored to areas of likely growth in the solar industry as well as the skills of the program participants.

SAFER FOUNDATION

Project Name: Safer's Solar Energy Demand Skills Training Program

Location: Chicago, IL

DOE Award Amount: $800,000

Cost Share: N/A

Principal Investigator: David Gianfrancesco

Project Summary: The Safer Foundation, which focuses on workforce development and programming for people in the criminal justice system, will advance its Solar Energy Demand Skills Training program to fill the growing workforce needs of the solar industry. The Safer Foundation and its partners across the state of Illinois will provide participants with a comprehensive program based on interests and aptitudes. Experienced solar industry trainers, employers, and supervisors will combine classroom training, hands-on experience in the lab, and real-world installations to enable participants to better understand the sales, design, and installation fields.

ILLINOIS GREEN ECONOMY NETWORK

Project Name: Expanding the Solar Workforce through the Illinois Community College System

Location: Godfrey, IL

DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000

Cost Share: N/A

Principal Investigator: Katie Davis

Project Summary: This project will expand the solar workforce through a statewide program that strengthens the connections between education and training providers, job seekers, industry, and local communities. The team will build upon current solar-related courses and programs available at Illinois community colleges and make improvements through credentialing, instructional design, and new industry partnerships to better align with employer needs. The program will also make sure that licensure is embedded within the program and leverage all potential talent pools, including veterans.

THE SOLAR FOUNDATION

Project Name: The National Solar Jobs Accelerator

Location: Washington, DC

DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000

Cost Share: N/A

Principal Investigator: Christopher Walker

Project Summary: This project aims to accelerate the integration of transitioning military-service members and veterans into solar careers. In partnership with Hiring our Heroes and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the team will demonstrate a viable, scalable, work-based learning model that places transitioning service members into traineeships and apprenticeships ranging from technical sales and design to installation and project development. By engaging community and technical colleges, workforce boards, and community and economic development organizations in high-demand markets, the team will initiate intensive industry partnerships and better leverage the workforce community.

PHILADELPHIA ENERGY AUTHORITY

Project Name: Bright Solar Futures

Location: Philadelphia, PA

DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000

Cost Share: $46,500

Principal Investigator: Laura Rigell

Project Summary: This program will expand existing efforts in Philadelphia to develop a new, replicable workforce training program for the region’s growing solar industry. The curriculum will include solar installation, construction safety, an introduction to solar sales and design, and other job-readiness programs. Successful program graduates will be placed in internships with local employers and get ongoing support from the program to increase the likelihood of job retention.

SUNSPEC ALLIANCE

Project Name: Cyberguardians and STEM Warriors

Location: San Jose, CA

DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000
Cost Share: N/A

Principal Investigator: Thomas Tansy

Project Summary: Veterans with information technology skills and the ability to use advanced digital tools can lead efforts to modernize the electricity grid and improve the integration of distributed energy resources (DER). This project will support veterans with cybersecurity and information technology training to further develop these skills through new online training modules, accredited curricula, and hybrid training programs in DER system designs, grid operations, data analytics, cyber security, and investment decision support. The program will recruit veterans and transitioning military personnel from military bases and through existing veterans programs and facilitate job placement with utilities, grid operators, and other companies in the DER industry. This program will help to increase the pool of veterans to help fill positions critical to the security of the U.S. electrical grid.

Digital Adaptation Training for Distributed Energy Resources on the Grid

ELECTRIC POWER RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Project Name: Grid Ready Energy Analytics Training with Data

Location: Knoxville, TN

DOE Award Amount: $6,000,000

Cost Share: $1,500,000

Principal Investigator: Thomas Reddoch

Project Summary: The Grid Ready Energy Analytics Training with Data (GREAT with Data) initiative will enhance workforce readiness in the electric utility industry by focusing on the intersection of power systems and digital systems. The project will develop and deliver open-source professional training and university course content in data science, cybersecurity, integration of solar photovoltaic and other distributed energy resources, and information and communication technology for power systems workers in transmission and distribution. Through collaboration with utility and university partners, this initiative will develop certifications, credentials, qualifications, and standards for the training and education needed in the electric utility workplace to help transform the grid of the future.

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.
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