DOE Offers $170 Million for Solar Energy Technologies

April 13, 2011

Photo of a two workers on a roof carrying a flat solar panel.

Solar technologies will get a boost from the latest DOE funding opportunities.
Credit: Craig Miller Productions

DOE announced on April 8 nearly $170 million in available funding over three years as part of the SunShot Initiative to support a range of solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The research and development funding will support four areas of investment, including improving the efficiency and performance of solar cells, developing new installation technologies, advancing solar energy grid integration, and researching new materials and processes for PV technologies. These investments will help reduce the cost for utility-scale solar energy installations, increase U.S. economic competitiveness, and help the United States lead the world in the global market for solar photovoltaics.

There are four areas of funding. The Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency (F-PACE), in a collaborative funding effort with the National Science Foundation, is providing $39 million for research and development in solar device physics and PV technology to improve solar cell performance and reduce the costs of modules for grid-scale commercial applications. DOE is also offering $30 million for early-stage applied research to demonstrate and prove new concepts in materials, processes, and device designs for PV cells and modules. Another $60 million is available for research, development, and demonstration of balance-of-system components, including new building-integrated photovoltaic products, new mounting and wiring technologies, and new building code language that can foster the use of innovative, low-cost hardware designs. In addition, $40 million is available to develop technologies that will help increase the integration of solar energy onto the electrical grid and facilitate interactions between solar energy systems and smart grid technologies.

The investments are part of DOE's SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75% by the end of the decade so that they are cost-competitive with other forms of energy at large scale without subsidies. Achieving this goal, equivalent to approximately $1 a watt or roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for utility systems, would allow solar energy systems to be broadly deployed across the country. See the DOE press release, the funding opportunity announcements, and the SunShot Initiative website.