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Solar Energy Technologies Office announces Fiscal Year 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program

Solar Energy Technologies Office announces Fiscal Year 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program

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Solar Funding

On Dec. 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program, which will provide $45 million for projects that will advance research in solar hardware and systems integration, including the creation of an consortium dedicated to developing control technologies for a modernized electric grid.

These projects will help achieve DOE's goal of improving the reliability, resilience, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more about SETO’s goals and how to apply for a funding opportunity.

DOE expects to make about 10 to 20 awards under the SETO 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding opportunity announcement, each ranging from $500,000 to $25 million.

The SETO 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program seeks research, development, and demonstration projects that enable solar to connect reliably and securely to the nation’s electric grid, while developing next-generation solar technologies and boosting U.S. solar manufacturing. These projects will support solar deployment and lower costs as solar energy use increases across the country.

Topic Areas

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION

TOPIC AREA 1: Grid-Forming Technologies Research Consortium

$25 million, 1 project

SETO and the Wind Energy Technologies Office will fund a consortium to advance the research, development, and commercialization of grid-forming technologies—including solar, wind, and storage inverters—that enhance power systems operation for years to come. The consortium will bring together researchers, industry experts, utilities, and other stakeholders to create and demonstrate new capabilities, products, solutions, and processes that can impact the scalable integration of grid-forming resources into a range of electric systems. Tools like the new Research Roadmap on Grid-Forming Inverters will help navigate the research.

TOPIC AREA 2: Integrating Behind-the-Meter (BTM) Solar Resources into Utility Data Systems

$6 million, 2-3 projects

This topic area seeks projects that develop innovative sensor, communications, and data collection technologies to enhance the visibility of BTM solar energy resources. The goal is to develop more affordable tools to collect data in real time and encourage their adoption by utilities. Doing so will lead to increased visibility of distributed photovoltaic generation, which will enable more flexible and reliable control and operation of the overall power system. This topic area is intended for applicants who are looking to demonstrate entire data-collection systems that would be deployed throughout a distribution feeder. Selected projects will receive $2 million to $3 million.

HARDWARE INCUBATOR

This topic area seeks to accelerate commercialization of innovative product ideas that can increase U.S. manufacturing across the solar industry supply chain and expand private investment in U.S. solar manufacturing. These products and solutions will lower the cost of solar technologies and facilitate the secure integration of solar electricity into the nation’s energy grid. This topic area has two sections:

TOPIC AREA 3a: Product Development

$6 million, 6-12 projects

The goal of this topic area is to de-risk new technologies and manufacturing processes and bring them to a commercially relevant prototype stage, while developing and validating a realistic pathway to commercial success. Selected projects will receive $500,000 to $1.5 million.

TOPIC AREA 3b: Product Development and Demonstration

$8 million, 1-4 projects

The goal of this topic area is to conduct pilot-scale testing and demonstration of products or solutions. This includes high-volume or high-throughput manufacturing processes for solar hardware, the production of a large number of devices sufficient for statistically robust field testing and validation, or the demonstration of a system (for example, a microgrid or an innovative solar system) focused on pilot-testing new hardware. Selected projects will receive $1.5 million to $3 million.

Key Dates

Submission Deadline for Letter of Intent for Topics 1-3:

January 11, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Submission Deadline for Concept Papers:

January 25, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET 

Submission Deadline for Full Applications:

March 29, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Expected Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments:

April 28, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications:

June 22, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations:

July 2021 - September 2021

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