- US DOE has selected 75 innovative research projects for $128 million funding under SETO FY 2019 funding program
- Selected projects cover technologies as solar PV, CSP, soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing and advanced solar systems integration
- For PV, the selected projects will span perovskite thin-film modules, bifacial perovskite, higher efficiency CdTe PV, passivated contact PV technology, among others
A total of 75 innovative research projects related to solar technologies have been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for $128 million in funding. Spread across 22 states these projects will advance research and development in PV, concentrating solar thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing and advanced solar systems integration technologies.
According to the DOE, winning projects will help lower solar electricity costs while boosting solar manufacturing, reducing red tape, and making solar systems more resilient to cyberattacks. The DOE has awarded this money to projects from its Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 (SETO FY2019) funding program.
For PV research and development, 21 selected projects will receive $23.6 million to reduce the cost of solar PV by half with the aim to procure more affordable electricity for US consumers and businesses. These projects will focus on increasing performance, reducing material and manufacturing costs and improving reliability of PV cells, modules and systems, the DOE said.
Selected PV projects are divided into two categories, namely Photovoltaics Research Collaborations and Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS). Focus areas of these projects cover PV technologies as perovskite thin-film modules, bifacial perovskite, higher efficiency CdTe PV, passivated contact PV technology, among others.
Achieving lower cost of solar is a highlight for instance the Arizona State University (ASU) project on SonicWafering of III-V Substrates for High-Efficiency Cells: A Path to <$0.50/W project cost aimed at significantly reducing the cost of producing one of the costliest components of this type of solar cell.
Among other interesting research projects selected is Leading Edge Crystal Technologies’ development of a low-cost single crystal silicon substrate process for >23% solar cells to help improve its floating-silicon method for producing high-quality single crystalline wafers as opposed to the conventional process of using wire saws to slice the wafers off a block of silicon.
Outgoing US Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry said, “At DOE, we’re working to ensure that solar is more affordable for every American by reducing regulatory burdens and increasing the security and resiliency of our solar energy supply.”
The complete list of selected PV projects can be viewed on DOE website.
The number of projects selected as well as the amount announced for SETO FY 2019 at 75 is way higher than the 53 projects approved for SETO FY 2018, however back then PV research projects bagged $27.7 million for 31 projects (see $53mn From US DOE To Fund Early Stage Solar Tech).
Cost reduction target
Through this funding program, SETO aims to reach its 2030 cost reduction targets while enabling utilities manage a grid with increasing amounts of solar. For this purpose, it launched SunShot Initiative back in 2011 putting in place aggressive cost targets for the year 2020 for residential, commercial and utility-scale solar, of which it achieved $0.06 per kWh target for utility-scale solar three years ahead of schedule in 2017 (see SunShot Initiative Achieves 6ct/kWh Goal).
The 2020 targets for residential and commercial segment were adjusted for inflation.
Moving on, by the year 2030, the US DOE is aiming for new cost targets of reducing cost of solar electricity by an additional 50% with $0.05 per kWh for residential, $0.04 per kWh for commercial and $0.03 per kWh for utility scale solar.