As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a $60 million investment over 3 years for applied scientific research to advance cutting-edge Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies. CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which can then be used to produce electricity. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, this research supports DOE’s SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to reduce the cost of solar energy 75% to make it cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. DOE’s SunShot investments in solar energy research will encourage rapid, widespread adoption of solar energy systems across the country, help the solar power industry overcome technical barriers and reduce costs, boost U.S. competitiveness in the worldwide market for solar technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come.
“Our nation is in a global race to produce cost-competitive renewable energy that can create manufacturing jobs, cut our reliance on fossil fuels, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Secretary Chu. “The funding announced today through the SunShot Initiative will help unleash the vast potential of solar energy to diversify our energy portfolio, create clean energy jobs, and re-establish U.S. global leadership in this fast growing industry.”
Through this solicitation, the Department seeks to support research into technologies that have the potential to dramatically increase efficiency, lower costs, and deliver more reliable performance than existing commercial and near-commercial CSP systems. DOE expects to fund between approximately 20 and 22 projects, and encourages industry, universities, and National Laboratories to apply.
This SunShot CSP opportunity seeks to develop innovative concepts that could lead to performance breakthroughs like improving efficiency and temperature ranges, and demonstrate new approaches in the design of collectors, receivers, and power cycle equipment used in CSP systems. Each of these subsystems is critical to CSP operation: the collectors collect and concentrate the Sun’s energy onto the receiver; the receiver accepts and transfers the heat energy to the power cycle; and the power cycle converts the heat energy into electricity. Developing low-cost collectors, high-temperature receivers, and high-efficiency power cycles should lead to subsequent system integration, engineering scale-up, and eventual commercial production for clean electricity generation applications.