This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 05, 2011

DOE Intends to Fund $50 Million in Cost-Competitive Solar Energy Technologies

To develop cost-competitive solar technologies, DOE intends to fund up to $50 million in testing and demonstrations. The program will be a critical link between DOE's advanced technology development programs and full-scale commercialization efforts. The Nevada National Security Site will provide a "solar demonstration zone" that will serve as a proving ground for cutting-edge solar technologies, such as concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) and concentrating photovoltaic (PV) energy.

DOE expects to announce the Funding Opportunity Announcement early next year. Potential technology applications include: CSP systems that use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight on a heat absorbing fluid, convert it to steam, and ultimately generate electricity; and concentrated PV power that uses lenses to concentrate sunlight to improve the efficiency of conventional photovoltaics. The demonstration projects as part of the Solar Demonstration Zone will be deployed at a large enough scale to provide useful operating and economic data for the eventual deployment of solar energy projects at utility-scale, which are typically grid-connected projects larger than 20 megawatts.

The solar demonstration zone will complement the U.S. Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management's 24 Solar Energy Study Areas on public lands across the Southwest by providing essential data about the commercial viability of the most advanced solar technologies. As part of DOE and the DOI's continuing collaboration, the departments are working together to implement this project, including conducting environmental reviews and coordinating necessary infrastructure planning for the site. See the DOE press release, listing, the full Notice of Intent on FedConnect, with responses due by March 30, 2011, and the Solar Energy Technologies Program Web site.