SETO Newsletter: Demo Day for Solar Prize Round 2; Upcoming Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar

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Solar Energy Technologies Office


Top News: Round 2 Solar Prize Teams Present Their Innovations; Join the April Stakeholder Webinar

The American-Made Solar Prize Round 2 competitors will demonstrate their innovations for a chance at $100,000. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) will hold its quarterly stakeholder webinar April 23. And the Solar Energy Innovation Network announced eight teams working to ease solar adoption in rural communities and at the commercial scale.

These stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.

American Made Solar Prize

Watch Innovation in Action: Solar Prize Round 2 Demo Day

Today you can watch online as 20 teams compete for $100,000 in cash—in videos they uploaded, they’ll be demonstrating their solar innovations in the second round of the American-Made Solar Prize. Ten teams will be selected to win the cash prize, plus $37,500 in vouchers to redeem at National Laboratories and other qualified partner facilities to advance their prototypes. SETO Director Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus will announce the 10 finalists during a webinar on March 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The finalists will compete one last time in July for $500,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers.

Ask an Expert at the Next SETO Stakeholder Webinar

Join us on April 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET for our next stakeholder webinar, where the theme is “Ask an Expert.” SETO team members will be on hand to answer your questions about solar energy technologies, funding programs, projects, prize competitions, the grid, and just about anything else solar-related. What do you want to talk about? Email your ideas to by April 20 at 5 p.m. ET. We look forward to hearing from you.

The Teams to Watch: Rural and Commercial Solar Challenge Accepted

The Solar Energy Innovation Network, which supports multi-stakeholder teams pursuing new applications of solar energy and other distributed energy resources, selected eight teams to research solutions for solar in rural communities and commercial-scale solar. With funding from SETO and technical support from expert partners including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, these teams will share their insights to ease solar adoption in these settings. Learn more about the teams.

SolarPACES 2020

Deadline Alert: Abstracts for SolarPACES 2020

The concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) community’s biggest conference of the year, Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems (SolarPACES) 2020, will be held September 29–October 2, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you want to present a paper about CSP at the conference, abstracts are due electronically by May 1. Download the template. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit the CSP plant Solana and the National Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories.

Perovskite Solar Cells: Getting the Lead Out

Perovskite solar cells contain a small amount of lead, which significantly increases cell efficiency but may concern consumers when the technology reaches the market. Now researchers at NREL and Northern Illinois University have developed a technique that can sequester the lead in case the cell becomes damaged. Find out how they did it.

Solar Star: Photovoltaics Researcher Elected to National Academy of Engineering

In February, longtime photovoltaics researcher Sarah Kurtz was awarded one of engineering’s highest honors with her election to the National Academy of Engineering. Once an NREL researcher, now a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Merced, Kurtz is being recognized for her contributions to the development of III-V solar cells—so named for the groups in the periodic table the materials belong to—and leadership in cell reliability and quality. She will be inducted at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., on October 4. Watch her at work in this brief video.

Promising New Material for Thin-Film Solar Cells

In 2016, SETO awarded a University at Buffalo-led research team nearly $225,000 to develop thin films using chalcogenide perovskite, a family of highly stable, nontoxic materials. The team got results with the semiconductor barium zirconium sulfide that suggest its electronic properties could lead to a cost-effective, highly efficient solar cell. Read more about their discovery and what it could mean for the advancement of photovoltaics.

Shedding Light: Predicting Solar Power Generation

If you’re responsible for operating and maintaining a solar power plant, you’re thinking about factors that affect plant performance—shading, precipitation, soiling, and module degradation among them. These factors also affect plant revenue and system lifetime. Machine learning could take these factors into account to improve the ability to predict energy generation. Sandia National Laboratories and Trimark Associates researched this topic and published their findings in “Foresee the Future: Using Machine Learning, Climate, and Site Characteristics to Predict PV Solar Plant Generation.”


American-Made Solar Prize Round 2 Demo Day
March 30 | 3:30 p.m. ET
Check out the 20 teams competing for $100,000 cash plus vouchers in the second round of the American-Made Solar Prize. Then join the webinar on March 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET to find out who the finalists are.

Durable Module Materials Consortium (DuraMAT) Webinar
April 13 | 3:00 p.m. ET
Measuring and Understanding Moisture Ingress for Photovoltaics” will cover measuring and testing water vapor transmission rates in PV modules and characterizing material systems to keep modules dry.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Mount Sopris in the background of the Sunnyside Ranch Community Solar Array

Mount Sopris is in the background of the Sunnyside Ranch Community Solar Array, a 1.8-megawatt project near Carbondale, Colorado. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click the photo to download it.

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