DOE to fund utility projects for solar planning, research, training

Working with the Solar Electric Power Association Redirecting to a non-government site (SEPA) and other organizations, the Energy Department (DOE) this week released two Funding of Opportunity Announcements (FOA) related to utilities.

Solar Utility Networks: Replicable Innovations in Solar Energy (SUNRISE) is being issued by DOE to solicit applications for two topic areas. Topic A focuses on enabling utilities to develop long-term strategic plans for integrating high levels of renewable energy generation and ensuring that power systems operate reliably in real time under high renewable penetration. Topic B aims to provide technical assistance for building capacity through utility-scale photovoltaic planning and installation. 

DOE’s express purpose in issuing this FOA is to demonstrate cost-effective and reliable solar integration in real time, at utility-scale, in successful utility business models. DOE anticipates providing up to $12 Million through this FOA, for projects two to four years long, depending on the topic area. Awardees must share project costs. This FOA is part of the DOE SunShot Initiative.

SUNRISE deadlines:

  • Concept papers due: March 8, 2013
  • Expected date for response to concept papers: March 20, 2013
  • Deadline for questions: April 21, 2013
  • Full applications due: April 24, 2013

The second FOA, Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) seeks applications to increase power system research, development and analytical capacity. Projects should also be designed to prepare electric utility professionals to manage high penetrations of solar and other distributed energy technologies. To achieve these dual goals, GEARED will support two activities:

  • Training consortia focused on quickly bringing their findings into training and educational initiatives
  • A national coordination network that will link these consortia to one another and other relevant power system research and development and training activities

Increasing the power systems capabilities and talent pool promotes electric grid security, as well as environmental and economic benefits for all consumers. The GEARED FOA provides funding to support creating three to five regional consortia that work with universities and utilities to incorporate power systems analysis, research and development into curricula and short courses, cooperative internships and continuing education. GEARED will also support the creation of a national training network for distributed power system professionals. The FOA does not apply to undergraduate or graduate fellowships.

GEARED deadlines:

  • Concept papers due: April 12, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
  • Deadline for questions: April 16, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
  • Full applications due: April 19, 2013; 5 p.m. EST

Some of the topic areas are seeking utility applicants, while others are seeking utility groups or other types of entities.  SEPA member utilities that wish to apply directly or would like to apply in partnership with SEPA should contact SEPA President Julia Hamm at 202-559-2025 as soon as possible.

DOE Offers $5.2 Million for Building Efficiency Technologies

DOE announced on March 9 the availability of up to $5.2 million in fiscal year 2012 to develop improved building efficiency technologies. This funding opportunity includes advanced heating and cooling systems and high efficiency insulation, windows and roofs. The funding will advance the research and development, demonstration and manufacture of innovative building technologies to speed the commercialization of affordable, high-performance products.

Homes and commercial buildings consume approximately 40 percent of the energy used in the United States, costing American consumers more than $400 billion annually. Nearly a third of that energy is used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Advancing HVAC building technologies and improving the design and materials that make up a building’s “envelope” or air seal will significantly reduce the cost of heating and cooling residential and commercial buildings.

DOE seeks applicants for funding to support breakthroughs in energy-saving HVAC systems and building envelope solutions. Mechanical HVAC system projects should aim to increase the efficiency of cost-effective systems and components suitable for both existing buildings and new construction, while building envelope projects will focus on advancing high-performance cost-effective ways to minimize energy loss in homes and commercial buildings, particularly existing buildings.

Applications will be accepted through April 17, 2012. See the DOE Progress Alert the Funding Opportunity Exchange website. Source: EERE Network News, 3/14/12