SunShot Incubator Projects
On June 13, 2012, DOE announced nearly $8 million to fund 10 projects focused on non-hardware solutions to reduce soft costs, such as financing, permitting, operations & maintenance (O&M), and customer acquisition expenses, under the Incubator 6 program.
Projects funded under the SunShot Incubator Program allow start-up businesses to yield breakthrough technologies and game-changing insights. Currently, the following efforts are in progress.
AmberWave, Inc. ($1,000,000)
Salem, New Hampshire
AmberWave has developed a robust, ultra-thin, mono-crystalline silicon (Si) technology on flexible steel carriers, reducing silicon usage by more than 90% compared with mainstream wafer-based silicon photovoltaics (PV). Under this SunShot award, AmberWave is integrating this technology with the proven high-performance solar cell designs developed at the University of New South Wales, which has demonstrated the world-leading, 25%-efficient silicon solar cell.
Bandgap Engineering ($1,000,000)
Bandgap is working to increase solar cell efficiencies by about 10% by integrating Si nanowire cells into standard processing, which increases power density and reduces costs. In this project, Bandgap aims to provide nanowire-coated wafers to cell manufacturers and cooperatively develop the fully integrated manufacturing process.
Enki Technology ($1,500,000)
San Jose, California
Enki Technology is working to improve PV module efficiencies and reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) through development of low-cost anti-reflective and anti-soiling coatings.
Infinite Invention, LLC ($386,462)
The "Solar Socket" is a device that adds sockets for plugging in solar PV systems between the electric meter and meter case. It streamlines the installation process by cutting wiring costs, scheduling headaches, and site inspection time while also allowing homeowners to swap in new technologies as they emerge.
Princeton Power Systems ($1,000,000)
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Princeton Power Systems is developing an inverter that regulates DC power from PV strings to 13.8kV AC without a grid side transformer. The inverter includes control algorithms to provide consistent power flow from the solar installation as well as grid support functions and advanced communications. This product represents a major step toward achieving the DOE goal of $0.10/W for power electronics costs with innovative transformer, switching bridge, and software control technologies.
Qado Energy, Inc. ($500,000)
Summit, New Jersey
Qado is working to provide utilities and distributed generation developers a new decision support platform that enables them to quickly assess the technical impacts and commercial benefits of deploying distributed energy resources onto the grid.
QBotix, Inc. ($972,874)
Menlo Park, California
QBotix is pioneering the use of robotics in the operation of solar power plants to reduce LCOE by 20%. The system enables 50% cost reduction in dual-axis tracking, high system reliability, and detailed power plant level data, and is compatible with all PV panels.
REhnu, Inc. ($1,000,000)
REhnu is transitioning a new concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) technology, already proven in a University of Arizona prototype, to a low-cost form ready for commercial production. The technology uses large glass dish reflectors, each with a compact array of CPV cells at its focus. This makes it economical to build systems with an extended 40-year lifetime and maintain high power output by swapping in new cells as multijunction technology improves.
Seeo, in partnership with SunEdison, is developing an Energy Storage System (ESS) that pairs the breakthrough lifetime of Seeo's solid-state battery with a set of control analytics designed to optimize performance when operated alongside solar. This program combines a field demonstration with an evaluation of how financing mechanisms such as power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases can be employed to accelerate adoption of distributed PV with advanced energy storage.
Solaflect Energy ($1,000,000)
Solaflect Energy has developed a low-cost Suspension HeliostatTM that dramatically reduces steel usage by utilizing steel cables to stabilize mirror panels rather than steel truss structures. The SunShot project will focus on continued development of the heliostat design, design for robotic manufacture, reduction of manufacturing and installation labor requirements, and the transition to high volume commercialization.
San Jose, California
Stion has developed a disruptive technology based on a tandem copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) module that uses a revolutionary thin-film design to enable broader and more effective harvesting of available light. The tandem module, which utilizes mechanically stacked top and bottom modules to avoid the design and manufacturing challenges associated with multijunction monolithic integration, enables 18% efficiency on full-size CIGS modules.
Clean Energy Experts ($495,040)
Manhattan Beach, California
Clean Energy Experts is creating a cloud-based software toolkit to reduce customer acquisition costs for U.S. solar companies. The industry-specific software toolkit enables companies—from small installers to large manufacturers—to improve their marketing effectiveness, close more sales, improve customer service, and ultimately reduce costs.
Clean Power Finance ($500,000)
San Francisco, California
Clean Power Finance is building an online marketplace that will increase certainty for O&M by providing back-up servicing for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The marketplace will enable various vendors to bid on repair jobs, ensuring service for homeowners and peace of mind for investors. Investors and analysts have cited the lack of large-scale O&M capabilities as a major factor preventing the securitization of solar, which is vital to growing the solar market with competitive capital investments.
Clean Power Finance ($1,000,000)
San Francisco, California
Clean Power Finance is creating an online brokerage for customer acquisition for solar companies. The brokerage will enable installers to use independent companies to lower customer acquisition costs through steadier project flows.
concept3D is building simuwatt, a virtual, visual, data-rich mobile application to rapidly determine solar energy output for high performance buildings and to instantly provide design documentation for permits. simuwatt will also enable 3D visualization of solar projects for utilities, installers, and manufacturers, creating a new pathway to reduce customer acquisition costs.
Distributed Energy Research & Solutions ($500,000)
Distributed Energy Research & Solutions is streamlining the solar photovoltaic purchase process for installers while creating a novel reverse auction platform to ensure consumers receive the best prices available while lowering sales costs for installers through its website EnergySage.com. At EnergySage.com a consumer can solicit multiple quotes from pre-screened installers. The quotes are displayed in a standardized format that allows consumers to easily evaluate and compare them to select the best option, fostering price transparency and competition.
San Francisco, California
Genability is creating a suite of automation, optimization, and collaboration software tools for the solar industry. These will allow solar providers, installers, and financiers to optimize the economics and value of solar PV systems. From prospecting and initial estimates, precise avoided costs, system sizing and tariff optimization, to fully modeled power purchase agreement rates and escalators, Genability is streamlining the solar sales process.
Simply Civic ($499,510)
Simply Civic is streamlining management of permitting, inspection, and interconnection of solar energy systems through an innovative, modular online application available to every one of the 18,000 jurisdictions nationally. The tool will seamlessly enable jurisdictions and installers to track the status of solar projects in real-time while making it faster and simpler to process required paperwork.
Solar Mosaic ($2,000,000)
Solar Mosaic will bring much-needed capital to the solar industry by building a web platform for everyday Americans to create and fund solar projects. Mosaic's unique online crowdfunding platform will help reduce the soft costs of solar financing and customer acquisition while enabling thousands of Americans to own a piece of the growing clean energy economy.
Tigo Energy ($500,000)
Los Gatos, California
Tigo Energy is developing innovative software for solar PV systems that will use module-level monitoring data to automate key steps in the commissioning process, analyze system performance characteristics, and optimize the scheduling of ongoing O&M activities. This will benefit installers, system owners, and operations personnel by enabling them to target service and maintenance precisely where and when it is needed, reducing up-front labor costs and helping provide the lowest levelized cost of energy.
Sun Number ($402,050)
Sun Number is creating an automated solar assessment tool that can give a score to every building in a city. Homeowners and businesses will be able to quickly and easily determine if their rooftop is suitable for solar energy based on their custom score, which is determined by a complex algorithm that utilizes remotely sensed data and other inputs.
Halotechnics is developing a thermal energy storage system operating at 700°C using a new high-stability, low-melting-point molten salt as the heat transfer and thermal storage material, and demonstrating unprecedented efficiency for CSP applications.
Tigo Energy ($3,026,000)
Los Gatos, California
Tigo Energy is advancing to pilot production a new, low-cost, direct-current, arc-fault detector, which enhances the safety of PV arrays, reduces ongoing operations and maintenance costs for system owners, and complies with all applicable codes and standards for new and retrofit applications in residential, commercial, and utility-scale systems.
Learn more about past projects.