Reported from CSPPLAZA: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $4.6 million to three CSP research projects in the latest round of funding under its Sunshot Initiative program, the department said July 12.
In total, some $46.2 million was awarded to 48 solar projects. Cost share requirements will yield a total public and private investment of nearly $65 million, the DOE said.
Californian CSP developer SolarReserve was allocated $2 million, with an awarded cost share at $500,000, to develop cost reduction strategies for molten salt storage.
Ohio’s Echogen Power Systems was awarded $1 million, with cost share at $250,000, to research new thermochemical energy storage systems that use magnesium carbonate chemistry.
Colorado’s Solar Dynamics was awarded $1.6 million, with cost share at $400,000, to develop a new CSP trough collector that uses glass mirrored space frames, to be used in peaker power plants.
Image: SunShot Initiative progress and goals. Source: DOE
The Sunshot Initiative was launched in 2011 to accelerate reductions in solar power costs. The program aims to reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of CSP plants to below $60/MWh by 2020. Average CSP project costs fell from $210/MWh in 2010 to $120/MWh in 2015, according to government data.
Average U.S. utility-scale PV costs are now at around $70/MWh and the Sunshot team have set a target for PV costs below $30/MWh by 2030.
In its latest round of project funding, the DOE will provide $25.7 million to 20 solar projects under its “Technology to Market: Incubator” scheme. A further $20.5 million will go to 28 projects which develop next-generation modules and PV technologies, most of which are academic institutions.
A number of the projects funded under the technology incubator scheme focus on data-driven inventions.
Some of these projects target the utility-scale and commercial solar markets. For example, San Francisco’s KryptonCloud will receive $885,711 in DOE funding to develop an “advanced, big data analytics decision engine to reduce operations and maintenance costs for utility-scale solar projects,” the DOE said.
The Boston-based Energetic Insurance project will receive $800,000 from the DOE to research “novel, data-driven, actuarial models that will allow for substantial expansion of the commercial solar market by mitigating offtaker credit risk,” it said.