DOE Funding Smart Grid, Advanced Solar Start-ups

Last week, U.S Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that the Department of Energy will award a total of $188 million to small businesses in 34 states to develop technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation.

Funded through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR), the companies selected are for Phase II work, which means that the 201 awards will support the development of prototype or pilot operations for innovative technologies that have successfully passed the proof of concept stage. 

The 201 awards fall in 76 targeted technology topics, in areas such as the smart grid, energy efficient buildings, industrial energy use, advanced renewables, cleaner fossil power, carbon cycle measurement, and high performance computing.

In smart grid controllers, one million-dollar project, led by Infotility in Boulder, CO, will develop a “Smart Controller” that enables communication among distributed energy systems-such as roof-top solar panels, a plug-in electric vehicle, and demand response devices in the home.

Another million-dollar project was in advanced solar technologies and went to Luminit, in Torrance, CA, to develop a sun-tracking holographic concentrator that separately uses both visible light for photovoltaic power and infra-red light to provide heat and hot water for a building. 

According to DOE, between 1993 and 2008, small business created 64% of all net new jobs, totaling 14.5 million new jobs and employ nearly 40% of the U.S. science and engineering workforce.

The goal of DOE’s SBIR program is to help innovative small businesses succeed. In keeping with the goals of the Recovery Act, the Department’s SBIR efforts have incorporated a fast-track process for applications, increased emphasis on job creation and commercialization potential.


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