US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman today announced $170 million over three years (from FY ’07-’09) for cost-shared, public-private partnerships to advance solar energy technology. This solicitation is part of the Solar America Initiative (SAI).
The SAI aims to bring down the cost of solar energy systems to make them competitive with conventional electricity sources in the US by 2015. The goal of the projects funded by the solicitation is to reduce photovoltaic (PV) costs from 13-22 cents/kWh today, to 9-18 cents/kWh by 2010, on track with the SAI goals.
The $170-million SAI Photovoltaic Systems R&D Technology Pathway Partnerships (TPP) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will focus on development, testing, demonstration, validation, and deployment of new PV components, systems and manufacturing equipment. TPPs will be industry-led and may include one or more companies, universities, national laboratories, and/or non-governmental organizations.
Because DOE is requiring that the industry-led teams match their awards dollar-for-dollar, a total investment of $340 million will be realized when the private cost share is included. The prime recipient of DOE awards under this FOA must be a US commercial entity with current or planned US manufacturing capacity. An applicant may be a prime recipient on one award, and may also participate as a sub-recipient partner on multiple awards.
The cost of PV-generated electricity has been reduced by more than 20% over the last five years and the US PV industry has doubled in size during that time, according to the DOE.
President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI) includes a 22% increase in funding for clean energy technology research at DOE. As part of the AEI, the President’s FY 2007 budget requests $148 million for the Solar America Initiative, a $65-million, 78% increase from FY 2006, to accelerate the development of semiconductor materials that convert sunlight directly to electricity.
The $170-million solicitation, subject to Congressional appropriations, will fund projects in each of the following categories:
Systems-Class Projects. These larger projects will address multiple technology improvements in PV system and component design, integration, and installation. Teams will be expected to deliver full turnkey systems for testing, and will be expected to conduct pilot-scale manufacturing demonstrations. Per project, annual DOE funding will be up to $10 million per year plus a 50% minimum cost share, for a total project value of up to $20 million per year. Between four and ten selections are expected.
Subsystems-Class Projects. These smaller projects will focus on fewer technology developments on specific components or manufacturing equipment. Teams will be expected to deliver new components for testing, and will be expected to conduct pilot-scale manufacturing demonstrations. Per project, annual DOE funding will be up to $4 million per year plus a 50% minimum cost share, for a total project value of up to $8 million per year. Between ten and 15 selections are expected.