Energy Department Awards New ARPA-E Solar Projects

February 12, 2014

The Energy Department on February 6 announced $30 million in funding to 12 ARPA-E projects to develop transformational hybrid solar energy technologies that deliver cost-effective power even when the sun is not shining. These projects—in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington—will help advance solar energy beyond current photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies to drive lower-cost, reliable solar energy deployment.

The Energy Department awarded funding through ARPA-E’s Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program, which is aimed at developing new hybrid solar energy converters and hybrid energy storage systems that can deliver low-cost, high-efficiency solar energy on demand. Under the FOCUS program, projects will develop advanced solar converters that turn sunlight into electricity for immediate use, while also producing heat that can be stored at low cost for later use. The FOCUS program will also support innovative storage systems that accept both heat and electricity from variable solar sources.

For example, Sharp Labs of America will receive about $4 million to develop a hybrid solar converter that could enable utilities to provide on-demand and low-cost solar electricity. MicroLink Devices, based in Niles, Illinois, will receive about $3.6 million to develop high-efficiency solar cells that can operate at temperatures above 750°F and can extract the most energy possible from sunlight when integrated with hybrid solar converters. See the Energy Department news release, the complete project listPDF, and the ARPA-E website.