SETO Newsletter: $130 Million to New Projects; Small-Business Solicitation; Solar Prize Event

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office


Top News: New Projects Announced; Small-Business Funding; Solar Prize Round 3 Winners and Round 4 Semifinalists 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced project selections for the $130 million Fiscal Year 2020 funding program; small businesses have an upcoming funding opportunity for their solar innovations; sign up for a two-for-one Solar Prize event with networking opportunities and Round 3 and Round 4 announcements; register for our next quarterly webinar; our website is easier to navigate; and grid-forming inverters get a roadmap.

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

DOE Announces New Projects That Will Advance Solar Technologies

On November 12, DOE announced it will award $130 million to 67 projects across 30 states to advance research and development in photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), systems integration, and soft costs—and in new areas of research, including artificial intelligence, hybrid plants, and co-locating solar with agriculture. These projects will help reduce the cost of solar, increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and improve grid resilience nationwide. Learn more about the selections.


Calling Small Businesses: Apply for Up to $200,000 in Funding

If you’re a U.S.-based small business with an idea for a solar solution, DOE can help: We’re seeking proposals for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs. Funding will go toward proving your solution’s feasibility, and awards can range from $50,000 to $250,000 for six months or one year, with the potential for additional funding. Download the webinar recording (password: FkTqk54N), and learn more about the topic areas and SBIR/STTR in general. 

You’re Invited: Solar Prize Announcements and Networking Event 

Who’s creating solutions for the toughest solar industry challenges? Find out on December 4 at the Solar Prize Demo Day and Networking Event. Join SETO, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Solar Prize competitors, and other solar industry experts for an open networking session at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the announcement of the Round 4 semifinalists and Round 3 winners. Don’t miss this great opportunity to connect with solar pros. Register today

Solar Prize Demo Day and Networking Event

SETO’s Year-End Stakeholder Webinar

Join us for the last stakeholder webinar of the year on December 17 at 2 p.m. ET. The spotlight will be on our work to support the competitiveness of small businesses and domestically made solar hardware. We’ll have special guests, provide updates on our projects and programs, and let you know what’s coming down the pike. If you have solar questions, email Register today.

SETO’s Website Is Easier to Use 

We’ve hit “refresh” on our website, making it easier to find the information you’re looking for. Sections like Funding Opportunities have new and updated information; a new “How Does Solar Work?” webpage answers all your basic questions about solar energy; and it’s now easier for you—whether you’re a job seeker, government official, or consumer—to find the specific resources you’re looking for in our Solar Energy Resources section. Check out our site, stay tuned for more updates, and email any comments and concerns to

National Lab Receives Recognition 

R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Awards honor the top 100 research innovations of the past year, and NREL has received three of them. The magazine recognizes NREL for developing a process that could enable lower-cost mass production of III-V semiconductors for high-efficiency solar cells; a solution that reduces hydrogen buildup in CSP plants, supported by an FY18 Technology Commercialization Fund award; and a publicly available tool to help energy decision-makers invest in the bulk power system, funded through SETO’s FY19-21 Lab Call. Read more about these and other SETO awards.

Deadline Approaching: Help Improve Building Health and Resilience

DOE and the General Services Administration (GSA) recently issued a request for information (RFI) to identify innovative solar technologies that can improve the energy performance of federal buildings as part of the GSA Proving Ground program. The program seeks U.S.-manufactured PV cell and module designs and other next-generation building technologies. Complete the questionnaire and submit your response to this RFI by December 4, 11:59 p.m. ET.

Show and Tell: PV Abstracts Wanted 

Showcase your solar research at the 48th Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 48): The call for abstracts on the latest achievements in PV research, development, and applications is open. PVSC 48 is scheduled for June 20–25, 2021, in Hollywood, Florida. Submit your abstracts by January 25, 2021.

Shedding Light: Grid-Forming Inverter Roadmap 

Unlike conventional inverters, grid-forming inverters will be able to automatically coordinate with renewable energy resources to start up the power system if there’s an outage—known as black start—enhancing system reliability and resilience. The “Roadmap for Grid-Forming Inverters,” by three National Laboratories and two universities, analyzes the inverters’ impact on grid stability and provides potential solutions for a successful future. Check out the slides from NREL’s Power Electronic Grid Interface workshop to learn more. Email your questions to SETO Systems Integration Program Manager Guohui Yuan at


International Desalination Association and NREL American-Made Solar Desal Prize Teaming Workshop
November 30 | 11 a.m. ET
Individuals, companies, test sites, and related organizations interested in joining one of the 19 Solar Desal Prize quarterfinalist teams should register for this workshop.

CSP Workshop Series: Unlocking Solar Thermochemical Potential: Receivers, Reactors, and Heat Exchangers
December 3 | 11 a.m. ET
Register for the last webinar in SETO’s three-part workshop series on solar thermochemical potential, featuring presentations from SETO’s CSP team and industry experts.

American-Made Solar Desalinization Prize Teaming Event
December 8 | 3 p.m. ET
Meet the Desal Prize quarterfinalists and learn how you can support them in their quest to design innovative solar-thermal desalination systems. Register today. 

SETO in the News

Solar Photo of the Week

Solar Photo of the Week

A PV array at the National Wind Technology Center on NREL’s Flatirons Campus. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click to download.

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