On March 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Fiscal Year 2021 Photovoltaics and Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (FY21 PV and CSP) funding program, which will provide $39.5 million for projects that will advance solar PV and CSP research and development (R&D) and help eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector.
SETO expects to make about 31 to 54 awards under the SETO FY21 PV and CSP funding opportunity announcement (FOA), each ranging from $300,000 to $5 million.
The SETO FY21 PV and CSP funding program seeks R&D projects that will enable a decarbonized electricity system by 2035 and a 100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. These projects will help reduce costs for solar technologies, enable long-duration solar energy storage, and develop technology for carbon-free industrial processes in the United States.
Today’s announcement supports several concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) projects. Unlike PV technologies that directly convert sunlight into electricity, CSP captures heat from sunlight and uses that thermal energy to spin a turbine or power an engine that then generates electricity.
- $33 million for CSP advances: The new funding opportunity includes funding for improvements to the reliability and performance of CSP plants, which can dispatch solar energy whenever it is needed; identifies new solar applications for industrial processes, which contribute 20% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions; and advances long-duration thermal-energy storage devices. Long-duration energy storage is critical to decarbonizing the electricity sector and couples well with CSP plants, but the cost must fall by a factor of two to unlock deployment.
- $25 million to demonstrate a next-generation CSP power plant: Sandia National Laboratories will receive funding to build a facility where researchers, developers, and manufacturers can test next-generation CSP components and systems and advance toward DOE’s 2030 cost target of 5 cents/kWh for CSP plants.
Consistent with DOE’s commitment to ensuring the benefits of federal funding reach diverse communities, applicants to the Perovskite Startup Prize and the PV/CSP funding opportunity must submit a Diversity and Inclusion Plan and propose measurable actions to increase the participation of underrepresented groups on their teams, in their research, and in the broader community.
The CSP awards will include:
Scalable Outputs for Leveraging Advanced Research on Receivers & Reactors (SOLAR R&R)
$11 million, 3-7 projects
This topic area seeks projects that advance novel solar receivers and reactors that will enable new CSP applications, including higher-temperature power towers for high-efficiency power cycles, solar reactors for thermochemical production of fuels and chemicals, or other solar process heat applications. This topic has a tiered application structure and uses risk-retirement objectives to scale up novel concepts and develop supporting information to enable commercial partnerships.
Pumped Thermal Energy Storage (PTES)
$11 million, 4-9 projects
Projects in this topic area will advance PTES technologies that can use electricity to charge thermal energy storage, either as standalone systems or integrated with CSP plants. In particular, this topic area seeks to advance key PTES components, such as compressors and heat exchangers; meet technoeconomic requirements for thermal energy storage; and prepare the innovations for manufacturing and commercialization.
CSP PERFORM AND REFORM
This topic seeks projects to advance technologies, training, and standards to reduce the costs of parabolic trough and power tower CSP plants. This topic is structured into two sections.
1.Process Enhancement and Refinement for Operations, Reliability, and Maintenance (CSP PERFORM)
$4 million, 3-6 projects
Projects in this topic area will focus on improving the reliability, operability, and productivity of systems, processes, and designs of existing CSP technologies. This topic area is intended to further develop and evaluate solutions to reliability and performance issues that have been identified in existing CSP plants.
2.Research in Equipment for Optimized and Reliable Machinery (CSP REFORM)
$4 million, 3-6 projects
Projects in this topic area will focus on improving the design and operation of CSP plants by developing components and equipment for commercially relevant CSP systems that utilize conventional steam Rankine power cycles.
Projects in this topic area will focus on innovative and novel ideas that are riskier than those based on established technologies. SIPS have a simplified application process, designed to encourage applications from engineering and science researchers in traditionally underrepresented groups, as well as early-career researchers who have never applied or been selected for a SETO award.
$3 million, 10-13 projects
Projects in this topic area will focus on innovative and novel ideas that will dramatically lower the cost of CSP technologies to produce power or industrial heat. If successful, the technology should be well positioned to move to the next stage of research and development after one year.
For details, join the SETO FY21 PV and CSP Funding Opportunity Webinar on April 12.