United States: Top DOE Funding Opportunities For Building Efficiency And Solar Technologies

Stephen Bolotin is a Public Affairs Advisor in Holland & Knight's Washington D.C. office

The first quarter of the federal fiscal year is upon us, and with that, the Department of Energy (DOE) has already made a number of upcoming funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for technologies related to building efficiency and solar energy. With millions of grant dollars at stake, potential applicants can use this advanced notice to position themselves for submission by determining their potential eligibility, developing strategic partnerships, and beginning several administrative steps required in the application process. What follows is an overview of these upcoming FOAs followed by some general applicant guidance derived from our experience working with these programs.

Scaling Up the Next Generation of Building Efficiency Packages

  • This FOA aims to drive innovation in real building technology demonstrations while fostering collaboration of dynamic teams including deployment entities (states, local governments, or Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations), efficient building hubs (such as Innovation or Incubator hubs), utilities, technology providers, and/or building energy analysis professionals. This FOA will fund technology packages that: Improve efficiency across two or more building systems, especially packages that build off the current High Impact Technology Priority List

    • Deliver 50% energy savings across a building market segment or 750 Tbtu/yr in national energy savings potential at 100% penetration
    • Utilize strategic teams with a technology provider, utility, and deployment lead
    • Can complete demonstrations in less than three years with a clear, strategic path to broad adoption (including pertinent regulatory approvals)
  • Funded by the DOE's Commercial Buildings Integration (CBI) and the GSA's Green Proving Ground programs
  • Expected release: October 2016
  • Join the Teaming Partner List now to start building strategic partnerships
  • FOA Number: DE-FOA-0001518

SunShot Technology to Market: Incubator Round 12, SolarMat Round 5

  • This FOA aims to enable new solar technologies and solutions through research, development, and demonstration to overcome technical, institutional, and market challenges. This FOA will fund proposals that:

    • Achieve the SunShot Initiative goal ahead of the 2020 cost targets of $0.06/kWh, $0.07/kWh or $0.09/kWh for utility-scale, commercial and residential systems, respectively (levelized cost of energy), or reduce costs below these targets beyond 2020
    • Expand domestic solar manufacturing and supply chain value to be commensurate with the level of domestic deployment
    • Expand the domestic market for solar to be a significant fraction (>10%) of our nation's electricity generating capacity
    • Enable the integration of hundreds of GWs of solar on the nation's grid
  • Total funding approximately $30M with individual awards ranging from $500K to $5M each.
  • Expected release: October 17, 2016
  • FOA Number: DE-FOA-0001640

Photovoltaics Research and Development (PVRD) 2: Modules & Systems

  • This FOA aims to support improvements in module design as well as approaches to reduce installation and interconnection time through projects that consider the holistic module and system architecture as opposed to individual components. Topic Areas (TAs):

    • Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS): Small exploratory projects with high potential but low technology readiness level
    • Systematic Optimization of Layup, Interconnection, and Design (SOLID): Projects that target improvements in performance, energy yield, manufacturability, and reliability of completed PV modules
    • Rapidly Applied Photovoltaics: Integration and Deployment (RAPID): Projects that target hardware and software solutions to facilitate rapid installation of PV systems by overcoming existing structural and integration constraints
  • Awards will range from $100K to $2M depending upon Topic Area.
  • Expected release: October 2016
  • FOA Number: DE-FOA-0001654

Solar Forecasting II

  • This FOA aims to support three key aspects of solar forecasting as a critical enabler of higher penetration of solar power in the electric grid: the improvement of solar forecasting skill, especially during challenging conditions, such as partly cloudy weather and large ramps; the integration of solar power forecasting with existing grid management systems, especially through probabilistic methodologies; and the setup of a common test framework that can be used to validate solar irradiance and power forecast models. Topic Areas (TAs):

    • Develop a test framework that can test implementation of models developed in the following Topic Areas.
    • Develop solar irradiance forecasting models that can exceed the state-of-the-art of current forecasting capabilities
    • Develop forecasting models that can provide probabilistic solar power forecasts and probabilistic net-load forecasts along with visualizations that can be used to integrate the results within the workflow of grid operations (e.g. unit commitment, economic dispatch, etc.)
    • Total funding approximately $10M with individual awards ranging from $500K to $3M each.
    • Expected release: October 14, 2016
    • FOA Number: TBD

We encourage potential applicants to begin outreach to strategic partners, including DOE National Laboratories, in advance of the FOA release. Indeed, DOE likes to fund projects that support their labs, and such partnerships can add credibility and increase the odds of success. We also encourage interested parties to begin carefully reviewing the available solicitation documentation in addition to background on the programs' strategic objectives. An application that is well-aligned with these programmatic objectives is significantly more attractive than one which is not. Finally, potential applicants should undertake a number of administrative steps in advance of the FOA release, to reduce the time burden later on, including:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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