The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday awarded more than $145 million for 69 projects in 24 states to help shape the next generation of solar energy technologies as part of its SunShot Initiative. That announcement was followed yesterday by one concerning funding for a more established renewable power generation technology. The DOE and Department of the Interior announced nearly $17 million in funding over the next three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology.

The solar projects seek to improve materials, manufacturing processes, and supply chains for a wide range of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and components of solar energy systems. Some of these investments also support efforts that will shorten the overall timeline from prototype to production and streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules, and business processes for installing solar energy systems, the DOE said.

The six categories of projects announced on Thursday are:

  • Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reductions – Nine projects to receive $42 million.
  • Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency – Eighteen projects to receive $35.8 million.
  • Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems: Advanced Concepts – Eight projects to receive $25.9 million.
  • Transformational PV Science and Technology: Next Generation Photovoltaics II – Twenty-three projects to receive $22.2 million.
  • Reducing Market Barriers and Non-Hardware Balance of System Costs – Seven projects to receive $13.6 million.
  • SunShot Incubator – Four projects to receive $5.8 million.

As for the hydropower funding, 16 projects in 11 states were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to contribute to the development of innovative technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase sustainable hydropower generation.

The agencies said that the hydro-related projects will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 MW) hydropower resources; enhance the environmental performance of hydropower; test innovative, cost-effective technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and nonpowered dams; and spur deployment of pumped storage hydropower. By allowing utility operators to pump water up to a dam or impoundment during periods of low electricity demand and release water during times of peak electricity demand, pumped storage hydropower improves the reliability of electric grids and helps increase the use of variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.

Source: DOE, DOI