Solar America Initiative Sees Significant Interest Among Industry Partnerships
August 23, 2006
The U.S. Department of Energy has received 73 “letters of intent” from U.S. industry partnerships intending to apply for 3-year projects that will develop, test, and demonstrate new photovoltaic (PV) components, systems, and manufacturing approaches. Covering a broad share of the U.S. industry, the sheer number of letters demonstrates the recent evolution and growth of the U.S. PV sector and amounts to the highest level of interest in DOE solar R&D funding opportunities in the last two decades.
While final applications must be received on or before October 2, 2006, selections will be made immediately following the passage of appropriations for DOE's Solar Technologies Program. It is the DOE's objective to make awards and initiate the activities of selected partnerships by early 2007.
Part of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, this Solar America Initiative (SAI) funding opportunity is designed to make the cost of solar systems competitive with conventional electricity sources in national markets by 2015, supporting our nation's energy independence. The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) was published in March (see EERE's March 6, 2006 Progress Alert).
Final selections, subject to appropriated funds, will focus on grid-tied, terrestrial, PV technologies that can achieve the Levelized Cost of Energy and installed domestic capacity goals stated in the FOA. The letters of intent are almost evenly distributed between "Systems" and "Subsystems" Partnerships. The maximum DOE funding available for each award is $20 M for Systems Class and $8 M for Subsystems Class. The required recipient cost share for both Topic Areas is 50% of the total project cost, not 50% of the requested DOE funding.
Awards under this funding opportunity have the potential to lead to new funding opportunities for research and development on new solar component technologies, manufacturing processes for components, and integrated PV system designs that have the best chance at making PV-generated electricity cost-competitive by the 2015 goal. DOE also is developing a “technology acceptance” strategy to address marketplace barriers and challenges such as net metering, interconnection standards, and system financing.