Energy Department Awards Funding for Concentrating Solar Power

June 20, 2012

The Energy Department announced on June 13 its new investments in 21 projects designed to further advance cutting-edge concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. The $56 million in awards span three years, subject to congressional appropriations, and cover 13 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. As part of the planned three-year initiative, Congress appropriated an initial $16.3 million in fiscal year 2011. The Energy Department plans to made additional requests totaling $39.7 million in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to support these CSP projects.

The research projects—conducted in partnership with private industry, national laboratories, and universities—support the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar power cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. For example, DOE's Sandia National Laboratories will develop a falling particle receiver and heat exchanger system to increase efficiency and lower costs.

The awards will help speed innovations in new components to lower costs, increase operating temperatures, and improve the efficiency of CSP systems. The 3-year applied research projects will focus on achieving dramatic improvements in CSP performance while driving progress toward the SunShot goal of 75% cost reduction. CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which is then used to produce electricity. CSP systems are distinguished from other solar energy technologies by their ability to store energy as heat so that consumer demand can be met even when the sun is not shining, including during the night. See the DOE press release, the complete list of awardsPDF, and the SunShot Initiative website.