This past Earth Day was not only an anniversary of the celebration’s 40th birthday, but also a step forward by the U.S. Department of Energy for the advancement and expansion of solar power technology. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu (pictured) announced that the department will invest over $200 million in five years for the expansion, development, commercialization, and use of solar power technology throughout the US. There are three different solar initiatives that the department will fund, including: PV manufacturing, PV supply chain development, and a national administrator of the Solar Instructor Training initiative.
“Expanding the U.S. clean-energy manufacturing base is an important part of the administration’s goals to diversify electricity supply options, increase national security, and accelerate green jobs development,” said Secretary Chu. “These investments will help strengthen American competitiveness in renewable energy and transform the U.S. into a lasting manufacturing presence in the 21st century clean-energy economy.”
The PV manufacturing initiative will receive up to $125 million over a five-year period, which will see the department investing in manufacturing-focused research projects. The projects will have near- and midterm direct impact for the U.S. solar industry. Funding will be available in both university- and industry-focused development, wherein both topics will consider collaborative research models to increase the manufacturing technologies.
Each organization is required to submit a concept paper along with standard application materials. Concept papers are due June 3, and full applications are due in early August.
The PV supply chain initiative will receive up to $40 million over three years to focus on identifying and enhancing products and processes for the PV manufacturing supply chain. Projects should help the department achieve cost-competitive solar PV systems compared to the conventional forms of electricity and help to more widely implement solar technology in the U.S.
Projects should be concentrated on component and manufacturing technologies that will have a strong potential impact on the PV industry in the next two to five years. Examples of this include engineering lower cost coating materials, electrical components to improve performance, processes that minimize manufacturing waste, or equipment that advances manufacturing or installation speed.
With $10 to $15 million annually available for these PV projects, the department looks to choose both large and small companies that can develop new supply chain solutions. Applications are due July 2.
Finally, the national administrator of the solar training instructor network initiative will receive up to $4.5 million over five years to select a national administrator that will act as a central coordinating body for the training network. The network was created last year by the Department of Energy for the establishment of high-quality, local, and accessible training for persons involved in the sales, design, installation, commissioning, and inspection of solar PV and solar heating and cooling systems.
The national administrator will be responsible for managing the partnership of the training network members by publicizing their products and conducting added outreach such as providing recommendations for the adoption of best practices. In addition, the organization will be a national point contact for the training network and working with stakeholders, define, prioritize and address issues that relate to solar training and workforce development. Applications will be due June 15.
For further information on the U.S. Department of Energy’s funding, visit Solar Energy Technologies Program’s Financial Opportunities.