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Affordability, Reliability, and Performance of Solar Technologies


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.


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