United States – DOE has allocated more than $40 million to 40 projects promoting the next generation of solar, storage, and industrial technologies needed to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s climate objective of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.
According to the projects’ goals, solar technology costs can be cut in half by extending the useful life of solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) systems from 30 to 50 years, creating new storage technologies, and expanding the use of solar power in the manufacture of fuels and chemicals.
The 40 projects that were revealed are all related to solar thermal power and photovoltaics (PV). PV systems use photovoltaics to turn the sun’s energy directly into electricity, whereas CSP systems collect the sun’s heat and put it to use. As a result, the projects’ focus will be on:
- Photovoltaic research – Three projects to help make PV systems last 50 years, 20 years longer than current PV system lifetimes, which would reduce replacement and maintenance costs of solar systems. These projects will enable modular components that could be easily replaced due to normal wear and tear or after extreme weather events and better monitoring of systems. (Total award amount: $4.5 million)
- Concentrating solar-thermal power research – Thirteen projects will develop technologies that can enable CSP plants to operate at very high temperatures, which are necessary to produce fuels and chemicals with solar. These projects also improve commercial CSP plants’ overall reliability. (Total award amount: $25 million)
- Pumped thermal energy storage – Three projects will develop long-duration thermal energy storage, which can store and deliver at least 10 hours of electricity whenever it is needed, supporting DOE’s Long Duration Storage Shot. (Total award amount: $4 million)
- PV and CSP research advancement – Twenty-one projects will test novel ideas that can produce significant results in less than two years. These projects 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 DOE funding. (Total award amount: $6 million)
The Department of Energy is seeking input on two requests for information in order to better understand itself about future research needs: (1) recommended research areas for supporting American solar manufacturing and (2) performance targets for perovskite photovoltaics.