Solar Snapshot: 👑 The 2023 Sunny Awards Crown its Winners; Heliostat Prize Semifinalists Announced

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Solar Energy Technologies Office


What's Inside: Solar Snapshot, the newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), shares recent announcements; deadlines; upcoming events; and more.

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Estimated read time: 5 minutes, 7 seconds

What's New?

Meet the Winners of the 2023 Sunny Awards

DOE crowned the winning teams of the 2023 Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar at the RE+ Midwest conference. The Sunny Awards celebrate solar portfolios and programs that increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities. Five teams were named Grand Prize Winners, each taking home $10,000 in cash prizes for their impactful initiatives. One additional team was awarded a $5,000 Meaningful Benefit Award in the resilience category.

Sunnys winners map

Heliostat Prize Semifinalists Announced

The American-Made Heliostat Prize announced its nine semifinalists who have each won $100,000 and will now move on to compete for a chance to win the Grand Prize. This prize seeks to accelerate technology innovation and reduce the cost of heliostats, which are devices that tilt mirrors to track the sun and reflect it toward a receiver to generate concentrated solar-thermal power (CSP).

Heliostat Prize

New Funding to Expand Equitable Solar Communities of Practice

DOE launched a new Equitable Solar Communities of Practice program, which aims to support the equitable distribution of the benefits of solar. SETO is looking for industry experts to serve as lead organizations for one or more of the five proposed communities of practice. Lead organizations will be eligible for $75,000 in funding per community of practice. Apply by December 8.

Community Power Accelerator Prize Announces First Wave of Phase 2 Winners

The American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize (Round 1) announced the first group of Phase 2 winners. There will be an additional announcement for the remaining Phase 2 winners in early 2024. Each winner will receive cash prizes and move on to Phase 3 of the competition.

Upcoming Deadlines

Don't forget to participate in these funding opportunities, prizes, and solicitations:

  • Transmission Interconnection Roadmap Request for Information (RFI) – Grid operators, utilities, state and local governments, Tribal governments, clean energy developers, energy justice organizations, nonprofits, trade associations, and other stakeholders can submit feedback by November 22.
  • Systems Integration RFI – Members of the solar industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and end-user groups can submit responses until November 30.

Some Light 🌞 Reading

New Database on Large-Scale U.S. Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

The U.S. Geological Survey and DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released the largest and most comprehensive database to date on large-scale solar energy projects in the United States. The U.S. Large-Scale Solar PV Database is a public resource that will benefit research for large-scale solar energy development and inform siting and planning for future deployment.

Topics Announced for Small Business Solar Innovations

DOE announced topics for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) funding programs for fiscal year 2024. The programs give U.S. small businesses an opportunity to conduct high-risk, cutting-edge research and technology development with potential for commercialization, spurring innovation and job creation. Register for an informational webinar on December 4.

New Tool Connects Microgrids to Increase Community Resilience in Puerto Rico

Microgrids, which often use solar and storage, can function even when disconnected from the larger grid, which is helpful during widespread outages. A new tool developed with SETO funding takes microgrid capabilities even further, allowing the exchange of power between multiple microgrids within a network. See how this new tool can increase community resilience, especially in places that experience major hurricanes like Puerto Rico.

Join Our Team: Science, Technology, and Policy Fellowship

Are you a student, researcher, or professional with a passion for solar energy? You can join SETO in advancing solar technologies and deployment through the Science, Technology, and Policy Fellowship! Selected participants will play an integral role in designing and implementing new initiatives to make solar energy more affordable and reliable. Applications are due January 15, 2024.

2024 STP ORISE Fellowship

Meet SETO’s CSP Team

DOE funds research to improve CSP technologies—which look quite different from traditional solar panels. Check out SETO’s new video that details how the technology works and shows how staffers with diverse career backgrounds come together to advance CSP’s trajectory in meeting our decarbonization goals.

csp team video

Federal Energy Funding for Rural and Remote Areas: A Guide for Communities

DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations recently released a guide for people who live or work in rural and remote areas and are looking to plan or build clean energy projects in their communities. Find questions to ask before applying for federal funding, tips for navigating the funding process, and other resources.

Apply to the Cradle to Commerce (C2C) Program

Are you an entrepreneur or scientist eager to bring climate tech to the market? C2C is accepting pre-applications through December 10. Register for a virtual information session on November 29 to learn how C2C works to accelerate climate innovations and how you can be a part of the next cohort.

Innovators Selected for DOE’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP)

DOE announced the latest round of cohorts for LEEP. The 21 selected innovators will now work with an extensive network of mentors and experts at national laboratories to develop next-generation technologies that will help achieve a clean energy future that benefits the whole country.

Join the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Research Programs

Are you a U.S. graduate student considering a future postdoctoral position in renewable energy research? Check out this recent video from NREL to get a sense of what postdocs do at the lab.

Upcoming Events

Power Systems Integration Data and Algorithms Platform for Distributed Solar Generation Integration Analysis

November 17 | 2:30 p.m. ET
SETO is hosting a webinar on the Open Energy Data Initiative – Systems Integration program that will include an introductory presentation and demonstrations of the data pre-processing and distribution state estimation features.

SBIR/STTR Informational Webinar

December 4 | 2 p.m. ET
Join SETO at this informational webinar to discuss the Phase I solar topics for small businesses.

EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP) Informational Webinar

December 5 | 4 p.m. ET
Students and faculty interested in participating in EnergyTech UP, a $400,000+ collegiate competition, are encouraged to attend this informational webinar to learn about the regional Explore pitch events, the first major event of the competition.

Solar District Cup One-Semester Division Informational Webinar

December 7 | 4 p.m. ET
The Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition is seeking student teams for the winter/spring (one-semester or two-quarter) division of the Class of 2023–2024. Learn more about the competition at this informational webinar and register to compete.

In Case You Missed It

DOE Justice Week 2023: Equity Empowered

Learn more about SETO or DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.