Multi-millions of dollars available for wind, solar energy research

Over the past week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced multiple funding opportunities to renewable energy research including $130M for early-stage solar and $28M for wind. Further, the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium announced up to $7M in funding for offshore wind.


DOE announced that it would be able to grant up to $130 million for new research to advance early-stage solar technologies, projects which it says will help to achieve affordable and reliable energy to enhance America’s economic growth and energy security.

The funding program targets five research areas:

  • $26M for photovoltaics (PV)
  • $33M for concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP)
  • $17M soft costs reduction
  • $10M innovations in manufacturing; and
  • $44M solar systems integration.

These projects will make solar energy more affordable, reliable, and secure, while working to boost domestic solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make PV more resilient to cyberattack.

In the PV topic area, DOE will fund research aimed at reducing the cost of solar photovoltaics by half. Achieving the DOE’s cost targets would mean that the cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for unsubsidized electricity from utility-scale, commercial, and residential PV systems would be $0.03, $0.04, and $0.05, respectively, by 2030. To achieve these deep cost reductions, the PV research will focus on increasing performance, reducing material and manufacturing costs, and improving the reliability of PV cells, modules, and systems.

CSP will focus on technologies that enable CSP to provide power at any time or season, and that work to achieve the 2030 DOE cost target of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for CSP-generated electricity with at least 12 hours of thermal energy storage. This research includes new materials and technologies that significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing, enable new energy storage technologies, and develop solutions that enable a solar field to operate autonomously without any human input.

Balance of systems soft costs research should be aimed at reducing the costs associated with the non-hardware components of a solar system, such as siting and permitting, as well as financing and compliance with local codes, rules and regulations. Research will focus on enabling the country’s new and developing solar markets to tackle financing and permitting issues.

The innovations in manufacturing: hardware incubator supports innovative companies with early-stage product ideas that can lower solar costs and rapidly achieve commercialization, with an emphasis on projects that contribute to a strong U.S. solar manufacturing sector. These for-profit entities should be able to attract investors and become self-supporting at the end of their award.  

The advanced solar systems integration funding is for technologies that improve the ability of grid operators to integrate increasing amounts of solar generation onto the grid in a cost-effective, secure, resilient, and reliable manner. This topic also supports development of technology solutions that enhance the visibility and control of PV inverters and sensors, while improving the security of those devices from cyberattack.


DOE announced that up to $28.1 million is available in funding aimed at advancing wind energy nationwide across the land-based, offshore, and distributed wind sectors. While utility-scale wind energy in the United States has grown to 90 gigawatts, significant opportunities for cost reductions remain, especially in the areas of offshore wind, distributed wind, and tall wind.

Areas of interest under this funding opportunity include:

  • $6.1M for wind innovation for rural economic development
  • $7M for utilizing and upgrading national-level offshore wind R&D
  • $10M for offshore wind technology demonstrations; and
  • $5M for research into taller towers for wind

In addition to wind and solar, DOE has also issued funding opportunities for vehicles, geothermal, advanced manufacturing, water power, energy on Native American lands, and hydrogen/fuel cells.

How to apply

Deadlines are quickly approaching for concept papers and letters of interest for all DOE funding opportunities. For example the deadline for concept papers for wind April 29, letter of interest for solar are due May 7.

All funding announcements with links to more detailed information are available here.

More money for offshore wind

In related news, the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium announced up to $7 million in funding for its first comprehensive solicitation for offshore wind technology projects as called for in the Consortium’s Research and Development Roadmap.

Under the solicitation, the Consortium seeks proposals that foster significant reductions in the lifetime average cost of offshore wind energy while overcoming domestic market challenges in offshore wind technology. Each proposal is required to address one of the following technical challenge areas identified by the Consortium: 

  • Wind turbine array performance and control optimization
  • Cost-reducing turbine support structures for the U.S. market
  • Floating structure mooring concepts for shallow and deep waters
  • Power system design and innovation

Created in response to industry-led feedback, the Consortium’s Roadmap identifies three core research and development “pillars” that will be addressed through solicitations and awarded projects over the next four years. Additional challenge areas, consistent with the Roadmap, will be addressed in future solicitations and regularly revised to incorporate fast-moving market dynamics, up-to-date stakeholder feedback and new research priorities and objectives, including priorities in offshore wind power resource and physical site characterization and installation, operations and maintenance, and supply chain. 

In June 2018, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority was awarded $18.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead a nationwide offshore wind technology research and development consortium. As the first federally funded public-private partnership focused on advancing offshore wind technology in the United States, the Consortium, as a not-for-profit organization, aims to develop cost-effective and responsible development of offshore wind and to maximize economic benefits in the United States. The grant from DOE was matched by financial support from NYSERDA for a term of four years.

NYSERDA is administering this initial solicitation, which you can view at this link on behalf of the Consortium. 

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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