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.