Funding Notice: $7M in Funding for Social Science of Large-Scale Solar Siting

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office 


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 4 (SEEDS 4) funding opportunity, which will award up to $7 million for social science research that generates actionable insights that can improve large-scale solar (LSS) siting processes and outcomes for host communities—particularly those that are disadvantaged—and solar stakeholders. These insights will help enable the deployment of large-scale solar energy necessary to meet the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals for decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035.

Siting LSS projects is a complex process that requires stakeholders to consider many factors including zoning, economic opportunities, environmental impacts, and community character and aesthetics. Understanding the social dynamics of LSS siting is critical to develop innovative practices that produce benefits for host communities and facilitate deployment. Research supported by this funding opportunity will study community acceptance and opposition, permitting and land use planning processes and outcomes, and community impacts related to LSS deployment.  

SETO expects to make about four to six awards under the SEEDS 4 funding opportunity announcement (FOA), each ranging from $1 million to $2.5 million. SETO seeks diverse teams of researchers from a variety of social science disciplines, including anthropology, behavioral sciences, communication, economics, political science, public administration, sociology, and urban planning. Teams may also include community, energy industry, or government partners.

To support a diverse pool of applicants, SEEDS 4 projects led by minority serving institutions of higher education, domestic nonprofits, or U.S. state, local, or Tribal government entities are eligible for reduced cost share.

Prior to submitting a full application for this opportunity, a mandatory concept paper is due on January 30, 2024, at 5 p.m. ET.

SETO will host an informational webinar on December 18, 2023, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the funding opportunity and the areas of focus. Register for the webinar.

Learn more about this funding opportunity and other open funding opportunities within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.