SETO Newsletter: Calls for Solar Prize and District Cup Competitors; Solar Office Job Opportunity

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Solar Energy Technologies Office


Top News: Solar Competition Deadlines; Solar Office Leadership Changes; Stakeholder Webinar Review

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) made changes to its leadership team; there are a few days left to enter the 2021 Solar District Cup and the American-Made Solar Prize Round 4; get the scoop on our latest quarterly stakeholder webinar; check out a new funding opportunity; and we’re hiring!

Read these stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.

Wanted: Your Solar Prize Round 4 Application

Your solar idea could change the solar industry as we know it, and all you have to do is apply. But hurry—there’s not much time: Until October 8, through the American-Made Solar Prize Round 4, DOE is accepting applications from U.S.-based students, entrepreneurs, and other industry professionals for a chance at a $3 million prize pool. Competitors will also develop critical partnerships with National Labs and other members of the American-Made Network as they advance their prototypes on their path to commercialization. This is just what the recently announced Round 2 winners—Resilient Power Systems from Georgetown, TX, and SunFlex Solar from Tempe, AZ—did. Each team took home $500,000 in cash and $75,000 in support vouchers. You could be next.

Solar Prize Round 4

Changes to the Solar Office Leadership Lineup 

Now batting second for SETO is our new deputy director, Garrett Nilsen, former program manager of the manufacturing and competitiveness (M&C) team. Stepping up to the plate as acting M&C team program manager is Victor Kane, who has been working on the American-Made Solar Prize since its inception. We welcome Michele Boyd as the new program manager of the strategic analysis and institutional support team. Get to know them.

This Is Not the End: DOE Funds Solutions for PV Reuse and Recycling  

If you’re working on solutions for end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) or other electronic waste, DOE’s recently announced $35 million funding opportunity could support your efforts. The Reducing EMbodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Manufacturing Institute is seeking transformational technologies and research and development projects that can increase circularity of electronic waste, including PV. Submit your proposals by October 19 at 5 p.m. ET.

Last Chance to Enter the 2021 Solar District Cup

Now is the time for college students who are eyeing a career in the solar industry to join the Solar District Cup Class of 2021. This competition invites multidisciplinary teams—including mentors, educators, and industry professionals—to create and present innovative distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district. Submit your designs by September 29 at 5 p.m. ET, and learn more about the winners of the competition’s first round.

Solar District Cup Class of 2021

Apply to Work at SETO 

SETO has an open position for a management and program analyst on our operations team. Responsibilities include developing materials in support of the annual budget request and preparing monthly financial plans; facilitating and overseeing the financial and contractual aspects of SETO projects; providing recommendations on performance, cost, and reporting schedule requirements; and more. Learn more and apply by October 5.

In Case You Missed It: Stakeholder Webinar on PV Research

Hundreds of you joined us for SETO’s quarterly stakeholder webinar on September 10, as SETO Director Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus and PV Program Manager Lenny Tinker discussed the office’s PV research portfolio, including the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative, an effort to collect data on field degradation rates of PV modules and create a benchmark of cumulative performance and degradation rates for the U.S. solar fleet. Download the presentation and don’t miss out on our next quarterly webinar in mid-December. 

Shedding Light: Quarterly Solar Industry Update 

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s latest solar industry report, for the first half of the year, the United States installed a record high of 7.2 gigawatts of PV, a 48% increase from the same period last year. Ten states generated more than 5% of their electricity from solar, with California in the top spot at nearly 22%. Hawaii expanded access to community solar from 8 MW to 235 MW. And in the first three months of 2020, the United States installed about 208 megawatt-hours of energy storage onto the grid, down 34% from the same period last year. For more information, read the full report.


SolarPACES 2020 International Conference
September 28 – October 2 
CSP Program Manager Dr. Avi Shultz is the chair for this year’s five-day virtual conference for professionals in the concentrating solar-thermal power and chemical energy systems industries.

Solar Ready Vets Webinar
September 28 | 1 p.m. ET
The Solar Energy Industries Association’s Recruiting and Retaining Military Talent in the Solar Workforce: Solar Ready Vets webinar will explore how companies can work with veterans and transitioning service members. (Note: the Solar Ready Vets Network has started a monthly newsletter featuring more opportunities to get involved.)

ZPryme Virtual Town Hall: Future of Clean Energy Jobs, Resiliency, and Innovation
September 29 | 3:30 p.m. ET
SETO Director Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus will discuss DOE’s role in championing solar innovation and manufacturing through the American-Made Solar Prize and more during this webinar with Jigar Shah of Generate Capital. 

Cybersecurity and the Solar+ Decade: Solar’s Role in Protecting the Grid Webinar
September 30 | 2:05 p.m. ET
Tune in to this North America Smart Energy Week panel to see SETO Technology Manager Jeremiah Miller discuss the roles of the private and public sectors in securing the nation’s power system against cyberattacks.

Durable Module Materials Consortium (DuraMAT) Webinar Series
October 12 | 3 p.m. ET
NREL researchers will present on an instability phenomenon in solar-tracking PV panel arrays.

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Solar Photo of the Week

Aerial view of the National Wind Technology Center and surrounding property at NREL. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click the photo to download it.

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