U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
SunShot Incubator Projects
In October 2013, DOE announced nearly $12 million to fund 17 projects that are breaking barriers and reducing costs across the solar industry spectrum under the Incubator 8 program.
On November 14, 2012, DOE announced nearly $10 million to fund 10 projects that are speeding solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace under the Incubator 7 program.
On June 13, 2012, DOE announced nearly $8 million to fund 10 projects focused on non-hardware solutions to reduce soft costs, such as financing, permitting, operations & maintenance (O&M), and customer acquisition expenses, under the Incubator 6 program.
Projects funded under the SunShot Incubator Program allow start-up businesses to yield breakthrough technologies and game-changing insights. Currently, the following efforts are in progress.
Applied Novel Devices, Inc. ($500,000)
Applied Novel Devices is developing a new device architecture and manufacturing technology to reduce fabrication cost of high efficiency silicon (Si) solar cells and thereby lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
Brittmore Group, LLC ($684,708)
San Jose, California
The Brittmore Group is developing and demonstrating an automated system for pre-assembling frameless photovoltaic (PV) modules into larger panels using construction adhesives. The panels are then deployed across large-scale PV arrays by industrial robots that travel back and forth on the mounting rack. This technique promises a significant reduction in construction duration and cost. In addition, it is expected to accelerate market acceptance of frameless PV modules, which further reduces structural materials and electrical installation costs.
Clean Power Research ($945,529)
Clean Power Research is developing a software platform that will significantly reduce the soft costs associated with interconnecting distributed generation and encourage adoption with visualization tools and economic metrics. This software platform builds on the PowerClerk family of software that has successfully streamlined processing for nearly 75% of distributed solar incentives nationwide. The platform has the potential to cut interconnection costs by up to 65% and reduce overall soft costs by up to $800 per installed system.
Demeter Power ($500,000)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Demeter is offering solar lease or services agreement financing collected as an assessment on the property tax bill: PACE3P. By securing payments to the property, not the offtaker, PACE3P lowers LCOE by 20%, makes more deals "bankable" without a corporate guarantee, and enables the first uniform, scalable financing for commercial solar.
The EnergySage Marketplace transforms the complex solar PV shopping process into a simple, online comparison-shopping experience. The unique, innovative platform provides unprecedented levels of choice, transparency, and information at no cost to consumers, who can compare quotes from multiple pre-screened installers in an apples-to-apples matrix format across all financing options. EnergySage slashes time and effort for both consumers and installers, significantly reducing customer acquisition costs, boosting consumer confidence, and accelerating mass market solar adoption.
Folsom Labs ($350,000)
San Francisco, California
Folsom Labs makes software that helps PV system engineers quickly and efficiently design high-performance solar arrays by combining advanced performance modeling with cloud-based design tools. Under the SunShot award, Folsom Labs will extend its core HelioScope product to provide automatic evaluation of various system designs and component choices to quickly find the lowest LCOE approach for a given site.
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Geostellar is streamlining the procurement, financing, installation, and maintenance of solar arrays with the creation of a Solar Project Record. This will be available to homeowners, installers, government agencies, and financing companies through Web and mobile applications. The Solar Record provides application developers with important data, including the estimated cost of solar energy production on a particular rooftop, utility rates, load profiles, incentives, property ownership, equipment configuration, installation, and permitting requirements, for individual properties across the United States. Elements of the Solar Record will be updated through the application programming interface over the lifecycle of the solar array, providing valuable analytics on the performance and pricing of solar goods and services for future product development and the development of a robust securitization market.
Infinite Invention ($499,999)
The Solar Socket is a device that adds a socket for plugging in a solar PV system between the electric meter and meter case. It streamlines the installation process by reducing wiring costs, scheduling requirements, and site inspection time and allows for swapping in new technologies as they emerge. In addition, a version with onboard metering and communications lets the power flow directly into the utility grid.
kWh Analytics ($450,000)
kWh Analytics is building big data information tools to help investors understand risk in the new solar asset class. Backed by the largest independent database of solar asset performance in the United States, kWh Analytics enables investors to deploy more capital with confidence.
Renewable Power Conversion ($1,003,605)
San Luis Obispo, California
RPC is developing an environmentally sealed inverter featuring plug-and-play installation and a maintenance-free lifetime equal to that of PV modules. The Macro-Micro is a modular 17-kW inverter that provides high system MPPT granularity and high system up time. Power is converted with a CEC efficiency of 98.5% and low-loss system intrafield power collection is accomplished at 600 Vac. This distributed multi-string inverter provides multi-megawatt PV projects with a low LCOE alternative to large central inverters.
Silicon Solar Solutions ($500,000)
Silicon Solar Solutions, in partnership with Georgia Tech and Roth & Rau, is developing a post-manufacturing hydrogen treatment to optimize the emitter of n-type solar cells resulting in improved conversion efficiency and reduced silver gridlines. The technology, commercialized as Picasolar, has shown 15% relative efficiency improvements while using one-third less silver grid lines in the lab. The goal of this project is to demonstrate the technology on commercial solar cells.
Simply Civic ($400,000)
Simply Civic is streamlining the management of solar soft cost requests through an online application available to jurisdictions nationwide. The tool will seamlessly enable jurisdictions and installers to track the status of solar projects while making it faster and simpler to complete required paperwork.
Palo Alto, California
SineWatts Inverter Molecules form the smallest building blocks of a grid-supportive and highly reliable PV power plant. This industry-transforming architecture achieves dramatic miniaturization, complete semiconductor integration, and plant-level component elimination while meeting the DOE cost reduction targets.
El Cerrito, California
SMASHsolar is working to break down barriers to solar by developing a proprietary, scalable PV mounting system that installs in half the time with half the parts and allows an array to easily expand over time. This project is developing and testing an integrated mounting system that shifts field work to the factory, resulting in a simplified installation process that drives down balance of systems costs. The product design will ultimately provide a refined and easy-to-use solar power product for homeowners.
Solar Census ($735,072)
Walnut Creek, California
Solar Census is leveraging its patented algorithms to produce the first commercial-grade online shade tool that enables salespeople and system designers to customize PV systems in 3D and create highly accurate quotes in minutes. The software will streamline the sales and design process, reduce change orders and soft costs, and increase close rates and homeowner satisfaction.
Sun Number ($1,000,000)
Sun Number is analyzing rooftops to determine the best roofs and the best locations on roofs for solar. This data is used to create Sun Number Scores—a tool to educate consumers about the solar potential of their home. This data is combined with other data about the roof (i.e. age, material) and information about the owner of the building (i.e. behavioral modeling) to qualify properties and lower the cost of customer acquisition.
Sunrun Inc. ($1,600,000)
San Francisco, California
Sunrun is creating an integrated system that will streamline solar project development through automatic design, costing, simulation, proposal generation, pricing, permitting, and field change management. This end-to-end platform will optimize system performance and greatly reduce project cost and lead-to-cash process time.
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AmberWave, Inc. ($1,000,000)
Salem, New Hampshire
AmberWave has developed a robust, ultra-thin, mono-crystalline silicon (Si) technology on flexible steel carriers, reducing silicon usage by more than 90% compared with mainstream wafer-based silicon photovoltaics (PV). Under this SunShot award, AmberWave is integrating this technology with the proven high-performance solar cell designs developed at the University of New South Wales, which has demonstrated the world-leading, 25%-efficient silicon solar cell.
Enki Technology ($1,500,000)
San Jose, California
Enki Technology is working to improve PV module efficiencies and reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) through development of low-cost anti-reflective and anti-soiling coatings.
Infinite Invention, LLC ($386,462)
The "Solar Socket" is a device that adds sockets for plugging in solar PV systems between the electric meter and meter case. It streamlines the installation process by cutting wiring costs, scheduling headaches, and site inspection time while also allowing homeowners to swap in new technologies as they emerge.
Princeton Power Systems ($1,000,000)
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Princeton Power Systems is developing an inverter that regulates DC power from PV strings to 13.8kV AC without a grid side transformer. The inverter includes control algorithms to provide consistent power flow from the solar installation as well as grid support functions and advanced communications. This product represents a major step toward achieving the DOE goal of $0.10/W for power electronics costs with innovative transformer, switching bridge, and software control technologies.
Qado Energy, Inc. ($500,000)
Summit, New Jersey
Qado is working to provide utilities and distributed generation developers a new decision support platform that enables them to quickly assess the technical impacts and commercial benefits of deploying distributed energy resources onto the grid.
QBotix, Inc. ($972,874)
Menlo Park, California
QBotix is pioneering the use of robotics in the operation of solar power plants to reduce LCOE by 20%. The system enables 50% cost reduction in dual-axis tracking, high system reliability, and detailed power plant level data, and is compatible with all PV panels.
REhnu, Inc. ($1,000,000)
REhnu is transitioning a new concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) technology, already proven in a University of Arizona prototype, to a low-cost form ready for commercial production. The technology uses large glass dish reflectors, each with a compact array of CPV cells at its focus. This makes it economical to build systems with an extended 40-year lifetime and maintain high power output by swapping in new cells as multijunction technology improves.
Seeo, in partnership with SunEdison, is developing an Energy Storage System (ESS) that pairs the breakthrough lifetime of Seeo's solid-state battery with a set of control analytics designed to optimize performance when operated alongside solar. This program combines a field demonstration with an evaluation of how financing mechanisms such as power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases can be employed to accelerate adoption of distributed PV with advanced energy storage.
Solaflect Energy ($1,000,000)
Solaflect Energy has developed a low-cost Suspension HeliostatTM that dramatically reduces steel usage by utilizing steel cables to stabilize mirror panels rather than steel truss structures. The SunShot project will focus on continued development of the heliostat design, design for robotic manufacture, reduction of manufacturing and installation labor requirements, and the transition to high volume commercialization.
San Jose, California
Stion has developed a disruptive technology based on a tandem copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) module that uses a revolutionary thin-film design to enable broader and more effective harvesting of available light. The tandem module, which utilizes mechanically stacked top and bottom modules to avoid the design and manufacturing challenges associated with multijunction monolithic integration, enables 18% efficiency on full-size CIGS modules.
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Clean Power Finance ($1,000,000)
San Francisco, California
Clean Power Finance is creating an online brokerage for customer acquisition for solar companies. The brokerage will enable installers to use independent companies to lower customer acquisition costs through steadier project flows.
concept3D is building simuwatt, a virtual, visual, data-rich mobile application to rapidly determine solar energy output for high performance buildings and to instantly provide design documentation for permits. simuwatt will also enable 3D visualization of solar projects for utilities, installers, and manufacturers, creating a new pathway to reduce customer acquisition costs.
Solar Mosaic ($2,000,000)
Solar Mosaic will bring much-needed capital to the solar industry by building a web platform for everyday Americans to create and fund solar projects. Mosaic's unique online crowdfunding platform will help reduce the soft costs of solar financing and customer acquisition while enabling thousands of Americans to own a piece of the growing clean energy economy.
Tigo Energy ($500,000)
Los Gatos, California
Tigo Energy is developing innovative software for solar PV systems that will use module-level monitoring data to automate key steps in the commissioning process, analyze system performance characteristics, and optimize the scheduling of ongoing O&M activities. This will benefit installers, system owners, and operations personnel by enabling them to target service and maintenance precisely where and when it is needed, reducing up-front labor costs and helping provide the lowest levelized cost of energy.
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Learn more about past projects.