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Energy Secretary Announces Millions for Solar- and Water-Power Technologies

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu announced that the DOE will invest more than $200 million over five years to expand and accelerate the development, commercialization, and use of solar- and water-power technologies throughout the United States. The funding underscores the Obama administration's commitment to foster a clean-energy sector that will create U.S. manufacturing jobs and a workforce with the required technical training to speed the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. The funds will help solar- and water-power industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean-energy jobs for years to come.

Investments include:

Photovoltaic (PV) Manufacturing Initiative
Up to $125 million over five years
The department will invest in manufacturing-focused research projects that will have near and mid-term impact on the U.S. solar industry and catalyze greater cooperation within the industry. Funding will be available for applicants in two topic areas: university-focused development and industry-focused development. Both topics will consider collaborative research models to accelerate manufacturing-related technologies and provide maximum leverage to federal funding.

This funding opportunity requires that each applicant organization submit a concept paper in addition to standard application materials. The papers will allow the DOE to provide feedback to applicants on the potential of their proposal to meet the PV Manufacturing Initiative's goal of strengthening the U.S. PV industry. Concept papers are due June 3, with full applications due in early August.

PV Supply-Chain Development
Up to $40 million over three years
This funding is focused on identifying and accelerating unique products or processes for the PV manufacturing supply chain that will have an impact on the industry. The projects will help meet the DOE's goal of achieving cost-competitive solar PV systems compared with conventional forms of electricity and accelerating and facilitating the widespread implementation of solar technology.

The department is seeking projects focused on component and manufacturing technologies that show a strong potential to impact a substantial segment of the PV industry within two to five years. Examples include engineering lower-cost coating materials, electrical components to improve performance, processes that reduce manufacturing waste, or equipment that improves manufacturing or installation speed.

The DOE plans to select large and small companies that can quickly develop new PV supply-chain solutions. The DOE anticipates that approximately $10 million to $15 million will be available annually to fund these PV supply-chain projects. Applications are due July 2.

National Administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network
Up to $4.5 million over five years
This funding opportunity will select a national administrator that will act as a central coordinating body for the training network. The DOE created the network in 2009 to establish high-quality, local, and accessible training for personnel involved in the sales, design, installation, commissioning, and inspection of solar PV and solar heating and cooling systems. Awards were made to nine regional resource and training providers.

The national administrator will manage the collaboration of the training network members, disseminating their products and conducting other outreach efforts, such as providing recommendations for the adoption of best practices. The selected organization will also serve as a national point of contact for the training network and will work with a broad set of stakeholders to define, prioritize, and address issues related to solar training and workforce development. Applications are due June 15.

Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies (MHK)
Up to $39 million over four years
The department will accelerate the technological advancement and commercial readiness of emerging water-power technologies that can produce renewable cost-competitive electricity by harnessing the energy of waves, currents, tides, and free-flowing rivers or energy stored in ocean thermal gradients. DOE will use "technology readiness levels," a tool that has been used by numerous companies and federal agencies to measure and compare the maturity of evolving technologies, to evaluate and select projects.

This funding opportunity seeks to leverage private-sector investment in MHK technologies by providing cost-shared funding to industry and industry-led partnerships to advance the technological and operational readiness of MHK systems and components. The goal is to transition leading MHK system and component designs toward commercialization. Applications are due June 7.

The complete Funding Opportunity Announcement can be viewed on the Wind & Water Power Program's Financial Opportunities Website.

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