Solar Energy Innovation Network

The Solar Energy Innovation Network's innovative program design assembles diverse teams of stakeholders to research solutions to real-world challenges associated with solar energy adoption.

Solar Energy Innovation Network Logo. U.S. Department of Energy
The Solar Energy Innovation Network is a collaborative research effort led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. An innovative program design brings together teams of stakeholders from across the United States—including utilities, state and local governments, nonprofits, innovative companies, and electric system operators.

With the support of technical experts from national laboratories and other research institutions, these teams work to implement innovative applications of solar and distributed energy resources (DERs) in their unique locations and contexts. The solutions developed by the teams are demonstrated and validated in real-world contexts, making them ready for replication and scale.

Round 1

Nine teams were selected for the first round of the Innovation Network and and divided into two cohorts. One cohort focuses on improving the reliability and affordability of renewable energy. The second cohort considers the siting and operation of solar energy and DERs to improve grid flexibility and resiliency. Learn more about the first round.

Round 2

The second round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network comprises eight teams in two cohorts that are focusing on novel applications of solar energy and other distributed energy resources in either commercial-scale settings or rural communities. Learn more about the second round.

Round 3

The third round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network will focus on efforts to overcome barriers to equitable adoption of solar in underserved communities. The application window for Round 3 is closed. Learn more about the third round.

Assistance for Early Adopters

NREL is offering targeted analytical support to help other communities and organizations adopt and apply insights developed through the Innovation Network. Learn more about early adopter assistance and apply.

Program Structure

Teams are grouped into cohorts based on shared challenges and goals.

Over the course of 15 to 18 months, teams receive direct funding, analytical support from NREL and other expert partners, and facilitation support. Through coordinated engagement at four multi-day working sessions, teams work together to identify local and regional impacts, formulate and test innovations, and validate new models.

Sustained interaction with other teams is invaluable for ensuring a team's solutions benefit from lessons learned elsewhere and are devised in ways that maximize replicability. Teams benefit from peer exchanges with other teams in their cohort, but there has also been significant interest between teams across the cohorts, highlighting the success of the program’s network approach.

Insights and results from the program are shared at a symposium at the end of each round, through NREL publications, and on this website.


Please direct questions to the SEIN team.

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