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SOLAR TECHNOLOGIES

Description:

 

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) [1] supports early-stage research and development in the technology areas of photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power, and systems integration with the goal of improving the affordability, performance, and value of solar technologies on the grid. As the primary office within DOE investing in solar power, SETO invests in innovative research efforts that securely integrate more solar energy into the grid, enhance the use and storage of solar energy, and lower solar electricity costs.

The amount of U.S. electricity that is generated by solar technology is increasing. In 2010, less than 0.1% of U.S. electricity generation came from solar energy; in 2020 this fraction is nearly 3%. In some states, solar accounts for almost 20% of all electricity generated [2]. At the same time, the cost of solar electricity is decreasing, driven by global economies of scale, technology innovation, and greater confidence in PV technology. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) benchmarks and actual power purchase agreement (PPA) prices for utility-scale PV systems have decreased more than 80% since 2010 [3]. These low costs have driven the deployment of over 75 gigawatts direct current (GWDC) of solar capacity in the United States as of the end of 2019 [4]. About half of this capacity was installed after 2016 [5].

SETO advances technologies to use sunlight as an inexhaustible source of clean energy. SETO’s vision is solar energy as a fundamental part of the nation’s energy system and economy by 2050. In order to achieve this vision, the office will continue to work to lower the cost of solar (PV and concentrated solar power) energy and has established a goal to halve the cost of solar energy by 2030 [6]. With the dramatic reduction in the cost of solar, installations have soared, creating new challenges and opportunities for the electricity grid. To account for these changing needs, the office is also focusing on solar energy research and development efforts that help address the nation’s critical energy challenges: grid reliability, resilience, and affordability.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) [1] supports early-stage research and development in the technology areas of photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power, and systems integration with the goal of improving the affordability, performance, and value of solar technologies on the grid. As the primary office within DOE investing in solar power, SETO invests in innovative research efforts that securely integrate more solar energy into the grid, enhance the use and storage of solar energy, and lower solar electricity costs.

 

The amount of U.S. electricity that is generated by solar technology is increasing. In 2010, less than 0.1% of U.S. electricity generation came from solar energy; in 2020 this fraction is nearly 3%. In some states, solar accounts for almost 20% of all electricity generated [2]. At the same time, the cost of solar electricity is decreasing, driven by global economies of scale, technology innovation, and greater confidence in PV technology. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) benchmarks and actual power purchase agreement (PPA) prices for utility-scale PV systems have decreased more than 80% since 2010 [3]. These low costs have driven the deployment of over 75 gigawatts direct current (GWDC) of solar capacity in the United States as of the end of 2019 [4]. About half of this capacity was installed after 2016 [5].

 

SETO advances technologies to use sunlight as an inexhaustible source of clean energy. SETO’s vision is solar energy as a fundamental part of the nation’s energy system and economy by 2050. In order to achieve this vision, the office will continue to work to lower the cost of solar (PV and concentrated solar power) energy and has established a goal to halve the cost of solar energy by 2030 [6]. With the dramatic reduction in the cost of solar, installations have soared, creating new challenges and opportunities for the electricity grid. To account for these changing needs, the office is also focusing on solar energy research and development efforts that help address the nation’s critical energy challenges: grid reliability, resilience, and affordability.

 

Historically, SETO has supported the commercialization of solar innovations through FOAs and other funding programs that relate to one another but have their own unique attributes [7]. Other programs include the American-Made Solar Prize [8], the Incubator topic area in SETO FOAs [9], and the Technology Commercialization Fund [10]. Please read the individual funding opportunities to find the best program for the technology readiness of the proposed technology and to make sure that the application aligns with the program’s goals and objectives.

 

Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the Commercialization Assistance Program, which provides funding for commercialization activities in addition to SBIR/STTR research funding. Please read the FOA with more information about this program and how to apply for this additional funding opportunity.

 

 

 

American-Made Network

The American-Made Network [11] is a great resource for finding commercialization-assistance providers and vendors with specific expertise in the solar space. The Network helps accelerate solar innovations through a diverse and powerful group of entities that includes National Laboratories, energy incubators, investors, prototyping and testing facilities, and other industry partners from across the United States who engage, connect, mentor, and amplify the efforts of small businesses. The Network can help companies solve pressing technology challenges, forge connections, and advance potentially game-changing ideas and innovations.

 

Application Guidelines

Within this SBIR/STTR FOA, applications submitted to any one of the subtopics listed below must:

·         Propose a tightly structured program that includes quantitative technical and business objectives that demonstrate a clear progression in development and are aggressive but achievable;

·         Include projections for price and/or performance improvements that are referenced to a benchmark;

·         Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the proposed innovation with respect to existing commercially available products or solutions;

·         Include a preliminary cost analysis that clearly identifies assumptions and sources of input data;

·         Justify all performance claims with theoretical predictions and/or relevant experimental data.

 

Phase I awards part of this Topic will be made in the form of a grant; SETO anticipates that Phase II awards will be made in the form of a cooperative agreement. In a cooperative agreement, DOE maintains substantial involvement in the definition of the scope, goals, and objectives of the project.

 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to use the table below to include a summary of objectives they expect to achieve by the end of the Phase I period of performance. A similar table will be required in a Phase II application. DOE has the possibility to negotiate project milestones with entities selected for a Phase II award. The table contains examples of each objective type, to guide applicants while preparing their application. Each application should include technical, business, and stakeholder engagement-related objectives with clear, quantifiable, measurable, verifiable, aggressive yet realistic success metrics, and clear definitions of how completion of an objective will be assessed. Completion of a task or activity should not be considered an objective. The table should be organized chronologically.

 

PERFORMANCE METRICS AND SUCCESS VALUES IN THIS TABLE ARE ONLY EXAMPLES AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT OFFICE GOALS OR SUCCESS METRICS FOR THIS TOPIC.

#

Month of completion

Performance Metric

Success Value

Assessment Tool / Method of Measuring Success Value

Verification Process

Metric Justification, Additional Notes

1

2

Cell efficiency

> 25% efficiency

Average, standard deviation. At least 10 cells measured under standard conditions. Standard deviation < 1% (absolute efficiency).

Raw data and graphs included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

The success value was chosen based on initial cost modeling. Efficiency lower than 25% makes this material not competitive with current state of the art.

2

3

Circuit model curation

> 30 models, of which at least 20 are suitable for testing

Count. 30 realistic and anonymized candidate distribution circuit models identified, of which at least 20 are suitable for detailed testing.

Description of circuit models, load models, impedances, and connectivity characteristics included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

Load models, impedances, and connectivity characteristics must be included in the report to assess the feasibility of the proposed circuits.

3

4

Feedback

> 10 potential users

Count. A minimum of 10 potential users of the tool will undergo a demo of the software (in-person or webinar) and provide feedback. Users must provide specific feedback as to the minimum availability and response time they require for their specific use case.

Documentation of feedback and a justified plan to implement or reject recommendations from potential users included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

User feedback is a critical part of an iterative development cycle to ensure the solution is useful to potential off-takers.

4

4

Module lifetime

> 30 years

Accelerated testing conducted according to testing procedures listed in IEC 1234.

Raw data and graphs included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

IEC 1234 is the industry-used module degradation test.

5

5

Heliostat installed cost

≤ $50/m2

Average expected accuracy range is +20%/-15%.

Cost model with description of assumptions used for input parameters, methodology for the sensitivity analysis, supporting documents used to determine the bill of materials included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

Success metrics defined in the FOA.

6

5

Letters of Support

5 letters

Count. A minimum of 5 letters of support from domestic manufacturers. Includes one module producer with capacity over 200MW annually.

Letters included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

Engaging with a large domestic module manufacturer is essential to show there are interested technology off-takers.

7

6

Simulation validation

Single feeder simulation

Power flows validated on a single realistic distribution feeder in simulation. Phasor tracking shows agreement with expected power flows at every circuit node to better than 5%.

Quantitative simulation results included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

5% agreement is required to assess the quality of the simulation tools.

8

8

Independent expert review of security architecture

Third-party review

Report by independent third-party cybersecurity expert reviewing the architecture and providing feedback on potential weaknesses.

Security review report included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

Implications of new platform architecture in the context of new cybersecurity concerns must be investigated and mitigated if necessary.

9

9

Module efficiency

> 25% efficiency

Average, standard deviation. At least 10 modules measured under standard conditions. Standard deviation < 1% (absolute efficiency).

Raw data, graphs, and report from testing facility included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

The success value was chosen based on initial cost modeling. Efficiency lower than 25% makes this technology not competitive with current state of the art.

10

9

Binding letters of intent

2 letters

Count. A minimum of 2 letters of intent from relevant stakeholders committing to fabricate and test a large-scale prototype of this technology.

Letters included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

Success of the award will be measured by successful technology transfer to private entities.

11

9

Contract

> 1

Count. At least one agreement with a non-team-member to share data and beta test the solution.

Agreement included in the progress / final report submitted to DOE according to the FARC.

Success of the award will be measured by successful technology transfer to private entities.

 

NOTE: In addition to the subtopics below, SETO is considering applications in response to Topic 20 - Joint Topic: CABLE through subtopic f: Electrical connections for photovoltaic modules and systems. Applications on technologies related to PV electrical connections will be considered nonresponsive if submitted to this topic (Topic 16, Solar Energy Technologies).

 

Applications are sought in the following subtopics:

 

a.      TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER OPPORTUNITY: Method for Mechanical Load Testing of Photovoltaic Modules with Concurrently Applied Stressors and Diagnostic Methods

This is a Technology Transfer Opportunity for a non-exclusive license to commercialize a newly developed and PV module testing platform that allows for simultaneous application of multiple stress factors of the natural environment.

 

Comprehensive design testing of PV modules is challenging. Typically, stresses at levels higher than those occurring in the natural environment are applied to achieve acceleration. These stress factors are usually applied in steady state, with fewer stress factors, or in combinations and sequences that do not reflect real world conditions. Also, stress tests are frequently designed around failure modes in existing designs that have already manifested in the field, limiting our ability to predict the potential occurrence of failures with new PV module materials and designs. Real-world load tests – required for modules in environments in which high wind or snow loading is commonplace – are difficult to replicate because currently used techniques cannot replicate the high frequency module vibration experienced in high winds while also thermally stressing the module, allowing for water ingress, and allowing exposure to light. Current methods for applying mechanical load to a module for mechanical testing obstruct significant amount of light from at least one side of the module whereas open rack systems, especially for bifacial modules, are designed for exposure to light from both faces of the module. While each of the stress factors are frequently applied in isolation, no current test for full size commercial PV modules can replicate the combination of stress factors as occurs in the natural environment in which they have been known unexpectedly fail, in part because of the limitation of commonly used stress tests.

 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed a PV module testing platform to simultaneously apply multiple stress factors of the natural environment (light, heat, moisture, system voltage, and mechanical stress) to achieve a comprehensive test of module durability. The simulation applies levels corresponding to the extremes of the conditions found in the natural environment using a four-cell mini module platform. We seek the scale up and commercialization of a system for full size modules with these five stress factors, including a system that applies an oscillating mechanical load to the edges of a PV module in such a way so as to avoid obstructing the active cell area. To achieve this, the module can be vibrated at its mounting points so that the interior of the module is rapidly displaced by its own momentum. Avoiding the obstruction of light this way, additional stressors including light, heat, moisture would be simultaneously applied the active area of the module such that they me be monitored by optical or electro-optical means to evaluate any module degradation in-situ. NREL is currently looking for partners to help with prototyping and commercialization of the combined- accelerated stress testing system for the evaluation of durability of full-size commercial PV modules.

 

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Information:

Licensing Information: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Contact: Bill Hadley; bill.hadley@nrel.gov; (303) 275 3015

License type: Non-Exclusive

Patent Status: Pending

NREL tracking number: 19-64

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

b.      TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER OPPORTUNITY: Nanocomposite Barrier Films for Photovoltaic Applications

This Technology Transfer Opportunity solicits interested companies to license a newly developed and patented thin film coating that can be used as an encapsulant for photovoltaic module assemblies and barrier coating in other photovoltaic applications.

 

Polymer-clay nanocomposites (PCN) thin film coatings have improved water vapor and oxygen permeability, in addition to improved corrosion resistance, while retaining high transparency, high electrical resistivity, and excellent fire-retardant properties for use as encapsulants for photovoltaic module assemblies and barrier coatings in other photovoltaic applications.

 

In these unique composite materials, repeated sequential deposition of solutions of clays (vermiculite, montmorillonite, etc.) and solutions of polymers (polyethylenimine,  poly(acrylic acid, etc.) layer with complimentary charged functional groups (positive and negative) forms a coating.  The coating can be deposited with many various repeating schemes as it is built one layer at a time. Once cured, the microstructure resembles a brick and mortar system where the clay platelets are the “bricks” and the polymer is the ”mortar”. The facile and scalable layer-by-layer processing is applicable to many substrates, from porous and flexible items such as fabrics and foams to hard dense materials such as glass or ceramics. 

 

As an impermeable barrier, the structure dictates a tortuous path for oxygen or water molecules to follow, which decreases the water transmission rate by over an order of magnitude beyond ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA). During a fire, the applied composite coating reduces the heat rate release, and can act as a flame retardant system. In an arcing electrical system, the PCN coating promotes extinguishment and increases time to flame by as much as 300%.

 

Sandia National Laboratories Information:

Licensing Information: Sandia National Laboratories

Contact: Margaret Gordon, megord@sandia.gov

License type: Non-Exclusive

Patent Status: Active - https://patents.google.com/patent/US10002983B1/

Publication date: 06/19/2018

Filing date: 05/24/2017

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

c.       Floating Solar-Powered Aeration Systems

In this subtopic, SETO seeks innovations that can advance the application of floating solar-powered aeration systems (FSAS) to improve water quality.

 

Aeration is the introduction of air into aquatic systems to support the growth of aerobic bacteria and aquatic life. Facilitating the oxidative decomposition of biological materials, aeration can also remove the gaseous products of decomposition, including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane and carbon dioxide. Many natural systems depend upon aeration to maintain a diversity of animal and plant species, as well as overall health. However, a surplus of nutrients, restricted mixing and flow, or significant depth can deplete dissolved oxygen in aqueous systems [1, 2].

 

Artificial aeration has been developed to address this issue. As a technology, aeration is generally applied to establish, maintain, or restore sufficient dissolved oxygen to ensure successful remediation and protection of water resources, including natural bodies of water (e.g., rivers, lakes) and artificial ones (e.g., fish farms, lagoons) [2]. Recently, self-powered, autonomous units that combine floating photovoltaics and aeration have been implemented to help restore natural water resources.

 

Applications should fall within one of the following three broad areas for ecosystem management on water systems:

·         FSAS for environmental restoration and protection of natural water systems [1, 2];

·         FSAS for sustainable water systems for aquaculture [3];

·         FSAS for sustainable waste bio-processing water systems [4].

 

Applications for FSAS outside these three categories will be considered if they focus on aeration via a floating solar-powered system. Applications should describe aeration parameters such as depth, timing, and rate of aeration; electrical-system specifics such as power requirements, electrical storage, and control systems; and any other subsystems in sufficient detail to explain the innovation.

 

SETO is particularly interested in applications developing technologies that:

·         Reduce operating costs by using FSAS to improve water quality;

·         Reduce the balance-of-system costs of an FSAS;

·         Improve the effectiveness and operation of FSAS;

·         Build synergy between FSAS and other unit operations to add value via enhanced system functionality; and

·         Generate an excess of electricity beyond that needed for aeration to provide power for external electrical systems (either floating, submerged, or shore-based).

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

d.      Solar Systems Resilient to Weather-related or Cyber Threats

In this subtopic, SETO seeks innovative proposals to improve the ability of solar assets or electronic devices associated with solar energy generation (such as inverters, direct current (DC)-DC optimizers, and smart meters) and systems to quickly recover in response to weather-related or cyber threats [1].

 

One of SETO’s priorities is to enhance the ability of solar energy technologies to contribute to grid reliability and resilience, including the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Infrastructure systems, including the electrical grid and solar generation assets, are vulnerable to weather-related threats, cyberattacks, and other disruptive events. Increased asset resilience presents opportunities to maximize operability and energy availability and minimize restoration costs following these occurrences.

 

Applications to this subtopic may address specific component or system designs that improve survival; improve recovery time; ensure access control, confidentiality, integrity, availability, or non-repudiation of assets; and minimize cost associated with disruptive events. Component or system designs may achieve these goals passively (e.g., via more robust designs or configurations) or actively (e.g., via “hardened” components, including any component that is connected in a smart power systems injection/absorption role).

 

Applications must include a basic cost-model analysis showing the cost/benefit of the proposed solution in comparison to current state of the art. Proposed solutions should discuss the component(s) being addressed, potential threats that will be deterred, method of integration (especially clarifying if it is part of a traditional PV component for integration at install or a retrofit for a fielded device), how interoperability with other components is considered, and how compromises or attempted compromises are conveyed to the relevant parties. Applications should also identify a possible case use by defining the time to recover the system’s full functionalities, and provide substantiated estimates for the capabilities of the proposed approach.

 

Examples of targets and metrics for hardened solar system performance include, but are not limited to:

·         Percent of system operable after a disruptive event (applications should specify type and intensity of the threat);

·         Time to full system operability after extreme event (restoration time);

·         Reduction in system restoration cost following disruptive event;

·         Level of functionality without grid support following extreme event (islanding).

 

Applications will be considered nonresponsive and declined without external merit review if they do not demonstrate clear innovation compared to the current state of the art, particularly regarding microgrid and/or islanding behaviors.

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

e.      Innovation in Solar Aesthetics for Residential Photovoltaic Systems

This subtopic solicits proposals for technologies that improve the aesthetic appeal of photovoltaic systems for use in residential applications.

 

While the PV market has continued to expand rapidly, the rooftop residential market has not grown at the same pace as the utility PV market, as a percentage of added capacity [1]. A survey of solar installers reported 40% of them consider aesthetics to be key when recommending which panels to install [2]. An NREL survey of potential adopters found that approximately 30% of people stopped considering PV installations due to concerns about aesthetics or the impact on the home’s resale value [3]. Another survey, of residential customers, found customers do not find currently available solar products attractive, ranking appearance a priority above reliability but below efficiency and price [4].

 

At the same time, the installed cost per watt has remained high, mainly owing to the slower reduction in non-hardware costs for this segment of the market. This could create an opportunity where an aesthetically pleasing solar module, even with a slightly higher hardware cost, could unlock new portions of the residential market that are sensitive to appearances.

 

Specific areas of interest include but are not limited to:

·         Innovations that greatly improve the aesthetic appeal of a PV installation

·         Innovations that mask the PV installation as some other component of the home or landscaping.

 

Applications will be considered nonresponsive and declined without external merit review if they do not demonstrate clear innovation compared to the current state of the art, particularly in regard to PV module skins and PV-integrated roof shingles.

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

f.        Commercial and Industrial Solar Systems

This subtopic solicits applications for innovative technologies that can reduce the installed cost of commercial and industrial (C&I) solar systems, improve their energy yield, facilitate their installation and grid interconnection, and enable additional value streams from them.

 

The C&I solar market has historically trailed the utility and residential segments, and while the utility sector was up 89% year over year in the second quarter of 2020, the nonresidential sector was down 14% in the same period. Many barriers exist in C&I solar that drive that discrepancy, but there is an opportunity to develop new technologies that can enhance the value proposition. For example, the enhanced energy yield offered by tracking technology could be a game-changer in the C&I market, with its tight margins and complex transactions. Tracking technology has revolutionized the utility-scale solar sector over the past decade, with 65% of all U.S. utility-scale PV systems using single-axis tracking technology as of the end of 2019 (and 82% of U.S. utility-scale PV systems installed in 2019 using single-axis tracking technology) [1].

 

Applications developing technologies for solar tracking on commercial rooftops or carports are also encouraged.

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

g.      Agricultural Solar Systems

This subtopic seeks proposals for innovative technologies that can reduce the installed cost of streams from agricultural solar systems, improve the systems’ energy yield, facilitate their installation and grid interconnection, and enable additional value. Of particular interest are new system designs and technologies that optimize solar and agriculture production, which may include novel mounting and racking designs or site configurations.

 

Although land requirements for solar energy represent a small percentage of the country (92 GW of solar estimated for 2030, which is estimated to require less than 0.1% of the land in the contiguous United States), the growth in ground-mounted solar can create competition with agricultural land for land use. Co-locating solar PV and agriculture could provide diversified revenue sources and ecological benefits for agricultural enterprises while reducing land-use competition and siting restrictions. Except for growing pollinator habitat at solar facilities, the co-location of solar and agriculture is primarily limited to research sites. There are many opportunities to develop new technologies that enable agricultural production (i.e., crop or livestock production, or pollinator habitat) underneath or around solar energy systems that optimize both energy and agricultural production at co-located sites [1].

 

Value streams of interest under this subtopic include, but are not limited to, increased agricultural yield and quality of life improvements, such as temperature reduction via shading. Applicants must include a strategy for future work to validate additional benefit/value streams, like crop field studies, for example.

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

h.      Components for Gen3 CSP Thermal Transport Systems

In support of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge [1], this subtopic seeks proposals for the design of components for the next generation of Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (CSP) generation technologies.

 

CSP technologies can be used to generate electricity by converting energy from sunlight to power a turbine. SETO is developing next generation CSP technologies (Gen3 CSP) which aim to deliver heat to a supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2)-based turbine at or above 700 °C. The Gen3 CSP program [2] identified several heat transfer media (HTM) that showed promise in meeting SETO’s electricity cost goals of $0.05/kWh. The program was then organized by the phase of matter for leading HTM— gas, liquid, or solid. Released in 2017, the Gen3 Roadmap study describes the best understanding of potential Gen3 technologies [3]. Since 2017, additional relevant research and analysis has entered the public domain [4-8].

 

At a high level, the candidate Gen3 CSP thermal transport systems are based on:

·         Chloride salt blends. A mixture of magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, and potassium chloride (MgCl2-NaCl-KCl) is a leading salt-based HTM candidate for Gen3. Major impediments to Gen3 paradigms using this HTM in the receiver include catastrophic corrosion in the presence of oxygen or moisture, low thermal conductivity limiting the maximum thermal flux on the leading nickel alloy receivers, and freeze risk. The Gen3 liquid-phase team has determined that a liquid sodium receiver is ultimately less risky than a chloride salt receiver with technologies presently available, however, this salt remains the leading choice of the Gen3 team to transport energy up and down a tower and to act as the thermal energy storage (TES) medium.

·         Supercritical fluids. Supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) has been considered as a HTM for the Gen3 gas phase system. Major impediments to Gen3 paradigms using this HTM in the receiver include: high-pressure and low thermal conductivity limiting the maximum allowable flux on nickel alloy receivers; high parasitic losses in circulation greatly impacted by pressure drop in the receiver; creep and fatigue failure of the receiver; and, a higher receiver outlet temperature needed for additional temperature drops in indirect thermal energy storage systems (such as particle beds).

·         Particles. Sand-like particles may avoid many of the issues associated with fluid high temperature systems due to the ability to operate at ambient pressure and with limited corrosion or thermal stability risk. Challenges include: operability limitations; risk of particle degradation with time at temperature; scaling limitations; efficiency of heat exchange in the receiver and primary heater; and general challenges in particle transport and mass flow control.

 

To further develop Gen3 CSP systems and ensure their feasibility in the market, there is a need to design, build and test Gen3 system components that will be economically viable in future Gen3 plants. Applicants are expected to include the design, feasibility, and cost validation of new or improved components and subsystems during their Phase I application; lab scale testing, and prototype manufacturing of such components is of interest in Phase II applications. 

 

The following are specific components that are of interest for development and desired performance parameters that would be supported under this subtopic: 

 

Components

·         Receivers:

o   Thermal efficiency > 90%.

o   Cost < 75 $/kWth (receiver only; excludes tower and piping).

o   Total receiver system cost including tower, piping, and cold salt pump < 150 $/kWth.

o   Lifetime > 10,000 cycles.

o   Applicable to gas, particle, or molten salt operation at >750°C.

·         Hot and cold salt pumps:

o   Designed for 720°C operation.

o   Operating power less than 5% of plant annual output. Developers can focus on subcomponents of the pumps and manufacturing processes for these subcomponents such as bearings, impellers, shafts.

·         Particle elevators:

o   Designed for 750°C operation.

o   Operating power <5% of plant annual output.

·         Thermal energy storage system:

o   Containment design for solid and liquid thermal energy storage at 720°C.

o   Cost target of 15 $/kWth.

o   Energetic efficiency >99%; exergetic efficiency >95%.

·         Balance of plant systems:

o   Low cost piping.

o   Low cost pipe and containment insulation for 720°C operation.

o   Design and manufacture of valves and fittings for 720°C operation, including check valves, control valves, gate valves and slide gates for solids.

·         Heat exchanger

o   Particle, salt, and gas to sco2 heat exchanger designs sought.

o   Cost target of 150 $/kWth power block energy input.

o   720°C sCO2 outlet temperature.

o   90-95% effectiveness depending on primary media.

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

i.        Affordability, Reliability, and Performance of Solar Technologies

This subtopic solicits proposals for solutions that can advance solar energy technologies by lowering cost [1] and facilitate the secure integration into the Nation’s energy grid. Applications must fall within one of these areas: advanced solar systems integration technologies, concentrating solar thermal power technologies, or photovoltaic technologies.

 

Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

·         Technologies that reduce the manufacturing costs of solar energy system components or subcomponents to boost domestic energy manufacturing and increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness;

·         Technologies that can measure, validate, or increase outdoor PV system reliability;

·         Technologies enhancing the ability of solar energy systems to contribute to grid reliability, resiliency, and security;

·         Technologies or solutions that reduce the balance-of-system costs of a PV system;

·         Technologies that build on other SETO programs and/or leverage results and infrastructure developed through these programs [2]. In the past few years, SETO has funded several programs to support multi-stakeholder teams as they research and develop solutions to reduce significant barriers to solar energy adoption through innovative models, technologies, and real-world data sets. The areas of interest, analysis, taxonomies, and best practices developed from these programs can be leveraged as the impetus for small-business innovation.

 

Applications must include a clear assessment of the state of the art and how the proposed technology would represent a significant improvement, along with a basic cost-model analysis showing a path to becoming cost-competitive with current state of the art and the potential to increase solar generation on the grid.

 

Applications will be considered nonresponsive and declined without external merit review if they are not based on sound scientific principles, are within the scope of any other of the subtopic listed under the Solar Energy Technologies topic, or do any of the following:

·         Focus exclusively on HVAC or water heating applications;

·         Propose development of concentrated PV or solar spectrum splitting technologies;

·         Propose development of technologies with very low possibility of being manufactured domestically at a competitive cost (e.g., PV modules based on copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS) or amorphous silicon thin films; technologies assuming incorporation of functional materials, such as quantum dots or luminescent solar concentrators);

·         Propose technologies to improve the shade tolerance of PV modules;

·         Business plans or proofs of concept that do not include documentation supporting their necessity or benefit. Competitive approaches in this application segment should be clearly defined in the application;

·         Undifferentiated products, incremental advances, or duplicative products;

·         Projects lacking substantial impact from federal funds. This subtopic intends to support projects where federal funds will provide a clear and measurable impact (e.g., retiring risk sufficiently for follow-on investment or catalyzing development). Projects that have sufficient monies and resources to be executed regardless of federal funds are not of interest;

·         Duplicative software solutions with many existing competitors in the market, including software to facilitate system design or system monitoring and any software solution to improve customer acquisition processes;

·         Propose development of ideas or technologies that have already received federal support for the same technology at the same technology readiness level.

 

This subtopic seeks to assist independent, growing small businesses that will successfully bring a new technology to the market and identify a profitable, self-sustaining business opportunity based on their innovation. This subtopic is not intended for creating a product, organization, service, or other entity or item that requires continued government support.

 

Questions – Contact: solar.sbir@ee.doe.gov

 

References:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Solar Energy Technologies Office.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020, https://energy.gov/solar-office

 

2.      U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Open Data API.” June, 2020, https://www.eia.gov/opendata/

 

3.      Bolinger, M., Seel, J., Robson, D. “Utility-Scale Solar, 2019 Edition” LBL, December, 2019, https://emp.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/lbnl_utility-scale_solar_2019_edition_slides_final.pdf

 

4.      Energy Information Administration. “Electric Power Monthly” April, 2020, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/update/

 

5.      Mackenzie, W. “U.S. Solar Market Insight 2019 Year in Review.” SEIA, March, 2020, https://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-report-2019-year-review

 

6.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Goals of the Solar Energy Technologies Office.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/goals-solar-energy-technologies-office

 

Please note that these programs may or may not be announced in the future, based on Congressional appropriation, programmatic decision, and office priorities.

 

7.      U.S. Department of Energy. “American-Made Solar Prize: Accelerate and Sustain American Solar Innovation.” U.S. DOE, NREL, American Made Challenges, 2020, https://americanmadechallenges.org/solarprize/index.html

 

8.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Manufacturing and Competitiveness Competitive Awards.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/technology-market-competitive-awards

 

9.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Funding Opportunities.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/funding-opportunities

 

10.  U.S. Department of Energy. “American-Made Network Partners.” U.S. DOE, NREL, American Made Challenges, 2020, https://americanmadechallenges.org/network.html

 

References: Subtopic c:

1.      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Guide to Aeration/Circulation Techniques for Lake Management” EPA-600/3-77-004, USEPA, January, 1977, https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/9100T303.PDF?Dockey=9100T303.PDF

 

2.      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "A Compilation of Cost Data Associated with the Impacts and Control of Nutrient Pollution.” EPA-820-F-15-096, May, 2015, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-04/documents/nutrient-economics-report-2015.pdf

 

3.      Agricultural Engineering Technical Note No. AEN-3 “Aeration of Ponds Used in Aquaculture” USDA https://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=34100.wba

 

4.      U.S. Department of Agriculture “Principles of Design and Operations of Wastewater Treatment Pond Systems for Plant Operators, Engineers, and Managers” EPA/600/R-11/088, USEPA, July 2011, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-09/documents/lagoon-pond-treatment-2011.pdf;

 

References: Subtopic d:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity.” U.S. DOE, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, March 2018, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/05/f51/DOE%20Multiyear%20Plan%20for%20Energy%20Sector%20Cybersecurity%20_0.pdf

 

References: Subtopic e:

1.      Feldman, D., and Margolis, R. “Q4 2019/Q1 2020 Solar Industry Update.” NREL/PR-6A20-77010, NREL, May 28, 2020, https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy20osti/77010.pdf

 

2.      Chen, H.Q., Honda, T., Yang, M.C. “Approaches for Identifying Consumer Preferences for the Design of Technology Products: A Case Study of Residential Solar Panels.” Journal of Mechanical Design. 135 61007, 2013, http://web.mit.edu/ideation/papers/2013-chenEtal.pdf

 

3.      Moezzi, M., et al. “A Non-Modeling Exploration of Residential Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Adoption and Non-Adoption.” NREL/SR-6A20-67727, September 2017, https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy17osti/67727.pdf

 

4.      Bao Q., Honda T., Ferik S. E., Shaukat M. M., & Yang M. C. “Understanding The Role of Visual Appeal in Consumer Preference for Residential Solar Panels.” Renewable Energy, 113, 1569–1579, 2017, http://web.mit.edu/qfbao/www/doc/2017-BaoEtal-RN.pdf

 

References: Subtopic f:

1.      Feldman, D., and Margolis, R. “Q1/Q2 2020 Solar Industry Update.” NREL/PR-6A20-77772, September 1, 2020, https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy20osti/77772.pdf

 

References: Subtopic g:

1.      University of Arizona. “Agrivoltaics Provide Mutual Benefits Across the Food–Energy–Water Nexus.” ScienceDaily, Nature Sustainability 2, 848–855, September 2019, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190903091441.htm

 

 

References: Subtopic h:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Energy Storage Grand Challenge Draft Roadmap.”U.S. DOE, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/energy-storage-grand-challenge/downloads/energy-storage-grand-challenge-draft-roadmap

 

2.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems (Gen3 CSP).” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/generation-3-concentrating-solar-power-systems-gen3-csp

 

3.      “DE-FOA-0001697: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems.” EERE Exchange, 2020, https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx?Archive=1#FoaId526233a7-c2f2-48ad-92b8-eb08ae45874e

 

4.      Mehos, M., et al. “Concentrating solar power Gen3 demonstration roadmap.” NREL/TP-5500-67464. National Renewable Energy Lab.(NREL), Golden, CO (United States), January 2017, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331993959_Concentrating_Solar_Power_Gen3_Demonstration_Roadmap

 

5.      Youyang, Z., and Vidal, J. "Potential Scalability of a Cost-Effective purification method for MgCl2-Containing salts for next-generation concentrating solar power technologies." Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 215 (2020): 110663, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927024820302658

 

6.      Vidal, J.C., and Klammer, N. "Molten chloride technology pathway to meet the US DOE sunshot initiative with Gen3 CSP." AIP Conference Proceedings. Vol. 2126. No. 1. AIP Publishing LLC, 2019, https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.5117601

 

7.      Albrecht, K.J., Bauer, M.L. and Ho, C.K. "Parametric Analysis of Particle CSP System Performance and Cost to Intrinsic Particle Properties and Operating Conditions." Energy Sustainability. Vol. 59094. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2019, https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/ES/proceedings-abstract/ES2019/59094/V001T03A006/1071171

 

8.      Ho, C. K., Kinahan, S., Ortega, J. D., Vorobieff, P., Mammoli, A., & Martins, V. “Characterization of particle and heat losses from falling particle receivers.” In Energy Sustainability (Vol. 59094, p. V001T03A001). American Society of Mechanical Engineers, July 2019, https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/ES/proceedings-abstract/ES2019/59094/V001T03A001/1071178

 

9.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Gen3 Gas Phase System Development and Demonstration.” SETO CSP Program Summit 2019, March 19, 2019, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2019/04/f61/CSP%20Summit2019%20BraytonEnergy%20Sullivan%20Gen3.pdf

 

References: Subtopic i:

1.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Goals of the Solar Energy Technologies Office.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/goals-solar-energy-technologies-office

 

2.      U.S. Department of Energy. “Solar Energy Research Database.” U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-projects-map

 

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