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Department of Energy To Invest $60 Million To Develop Innovative CSP Technologies

October 31, 2011

On October 25, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $60 million investment over 3 years for applied scientific research to advance cutting-edge concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. The research will support DOE’s SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to reduce the cost of solar energy 75 percent to make it cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which can then be used to produce electricity. The new funding will be used to develop innovative concepts that could lead to performance breakthroughs like improving efficiency and temperature ranges, and demonstrating 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 system integration, engineering scale-up, and eventual commercial production for clean electricity generation applications.

“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 U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, when making the announcement. “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.”

The funding comes through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. DOE expects to fund between approximately 20 and 22 projects, and encourages industry, universities, and national laboratories to apply to the solicitation. A pre-application must be submitted by November 22, 2011. For more information and application requirements for the SunShot Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development Funding Opportunity, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

Source: October 25, 2011 article published by the U.S. Department of Energy

—Karen Atkison