SETO Newsletter: Join the Solar Office’s Quarterly Webinar; Small Solar Companies Awarded Funding

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Solar Energy Technologies Office


Top News: Small Business Funding Selections Announced; Ask an Expert at SETO's Town Hall

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced that eight solar companies have been selected to receive Small Business Innovation Research funding; send in your solar questions and register for the next SETO quarterly webinar; the $9 million Solar Desalination Prize is accepting entrants; and three teams won the collegiate Solar District Cup. 

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

Small but Mighty: Solar Businesses Selected for Funding

Today, the DOE announced $200,000 awards for eight small solar companies in Phase 1 of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The program is designed to help small businesses commercialize new and innovative technologies, and these companies will work to demonstrate the technical feasibility of their innovations. Phase 1 includes two solar topics: a technology-transfer opportunity and a call for solutions to advance the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies. Learn more about these selections

Come One, Come All to SETO’s Town Hall: Quarterly Stakeholder Webinar

Join us on June 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET for SETO’s next stakeholder webinar. The theme is “Ask an Expert,” so register today and email your questions to by June 1. The SETO team will answer those questions during the webinar, so think about what you’d like to know about solar energy technologies, funding programs, projects, prize competitions, the grid, and anything else solar-related. If there’s time, we’ll take questions live at the end.

SETO Quarterly Webinar June 2020

Deadline Approaching: Full Applications for the SETO 2020 FOA

Don’t forget to submit your full applications for the $125.5 million Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 (SETO 2020) funding opportunity by June 18. DOE expects to award 55–80 projects under eight topic areas that span the solar office’s portfolio, plus artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for solar, and solar and agriculture.

If You Build It, They Will Come: Enter to Compete in the Solar Desalination Prize

SETO wants to see your ideas, so enter the Solar Desalination Prize today and compete for a $9 million prize pool. This competition, announced on April 28, aims to accelerate the development of systems that use solar-thermal power to generate clean water from very-high-salinity water. U.S.-based individuals, teams, academic institutions, nonprofits, and private entities who have ideas for an innovative system with a pathway to its commercialization are encouraged to apply. Concepts are due by July 16. Listen to the informational webinar, held May 12, for a detailed overview.

Solar Desalination Prize

National Community Solar Partnership Series Recap

On April 28, more than 500 people attended the National Community Solar Partnership webinar to learn about the program’s goals for affordable community solar. The webinar featured an overview of the partnership and updates on market-wide trends and opportunities from experts at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). DOE discussed plans to engage with stakeholders to design and implement successful community solar models. A second webinar held on May 7 focused on how partners can apply for technical assistance from DOE, the National Laboratories, and independent third parties. Download the slide presentations here. To join the partnership, email

College Students Shine: The Solar District Cup Winners

On April 27, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power David Solan announced the winners of the Solar District Cup, a challenge for students across academic disciplines to design distributed solar energy systems for a campus or urban district. The three winners, Dartmouth College, Florida International University, and the University of Cincinnati, were among the 35 finalists who presented their designs during a live video conference. The University of Cincinnati was selected as the “industry choice” winner. Registration for the Class of 2021 competition is open now through September 29.

Putting Perovskites on the MAP: Accelerating Commercialization with a New Consortium

Perovskite thin-film solar cells have shown enormous promise in laboratory research and DOE funding has paved the way. Now NREL, along with several universities and leading domestic solar companies, have formed the U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites Consortium (US-MAP). The consortium will focus on perovskite solar cell manufacturing, durability, and sustainability in preparation for commercial success. The group plans to attract investors in perovskite technology by sharing their research.

Interested in Working on Solar Issues?

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Science and Technology Policy Opportunity seeks the next generation of technology leaders in solar energy to help advance DOE’s work In this area. This is a paid opportunity for recent graduates with a bachelor’s, master’s, and/or Ph.D. degree in quantitative fields and established professionals with relevant post-degree experience. Participants can further their studies and help design initiatives that advance photovoltaic, concentrating solar-thermal power, and systems integration technologies, and support tech transfer, analysis, and soft-costs reduction activities. Learn more about the program and apply by July 15.

Shedding Light: Solar Ready Vets Network

The Solar Ready Vets Network comprises three SETO-funded solar workforce development programs that connect veterans and transitioning military service members with industry training and professional development opportunities. Whether the focus is apprenticeship or cybersecurity, each program has a specific area of concentration. Learn more about how the solar office is working to expand and train the solar workforce.


Durable Module Materials (DuraMAT) Consortium webinar
June 8 | 3:00 p.m. ET
An NREL researcher and other experts will talk about “A Pathway to Reduce Operations and Maintenance Expenses by Mitigating Cracked Solar Cells and Hot Spot Formation.”

Drivers of Low- to Moderate-Income Solar Adoption webinar
June 11 | 3:00 p.m. ET
This NREL webinar will discuss two journal articles, funded by SETO’s Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies (SEEDS) program, that use data-driven methods to identify characteristics, motivations, and barriers to solar adoption in low- to moderate-income communities.

International Desalination Association Academy webinar
June 23 | 11:00 a.m. ET
Join SETO’s concentrating solar-thermal power program manager, Avi Shultz, during this webinar, “Renewable-Powered Desalination: Innovative DOE Research and Open Funding Opportunities,” in which he will discuss the Solar Desalination Prize and the progress of ongoing desalination and concentrating solar-thermal power projects.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Solar Photo of the Week

Overlooking downtown Des Moines, Iowa, the Market One commercial building’s photovoltaic solar canopy contains 787 solar panels. Photo by Jared Heidemann. Click the photo to download it.

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SETO is part of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.