US DOE awards $125m for 41 transformational energy tech projects, including solar

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it is to award $125 million in funding for 41 transformational energy technology projects under its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program.

The announcement was made at the D.C. technology incubator 1776, which was hosting an event showcasing the top innovators in the U.S. working towards identifying technological solutions to combat climate change and shore-up energy security.

Some of the 41 projects that have been awarded the monies have based their research on solar PV technology. One of the largest recipients was the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which was awarded $5.1 million for the development of an HVPE (hydride vapor phase epitaxy) deposition process for producing high quality PV cells with 30% potential efficiency.

A large chunk of money was also steered towards various storage projects and programs nationwide, including an innovative electrochemical ammonia synthesis for grid scale storage being developed by Ceramatec in Salt Lake City, as well as a range of smart and flexible microgrid systems and electric vehicle innovations.

The projects have all been funded under the ARPA-E’s OPEN 2015 program, which has one eye on the imminent UN climate talks (COP21) in Paris at the end of this month. The program employs both open and focused solicitations to fund innovative technologies that hold technical and commercial promise but are still too early in their development to attract private-sector investment.

"The ARPA-E projects selected highlight how American ingenuity can spur innovation and generate a wide range of technology options to address our nation’s most pressing energy issues," said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

"As we look beyond COP21, the energy technologies the DOE invests in today will provide the solutions needed to combat climate change and develop a global low-carbon economy in the future."

Israel clean energy partnership

The DOE also announced yesterday that it is to fund six new clean energy projects to the tune of $5.1 million via partnership with Israel under the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program.

The seventh annual selection of BIRD energy projects builds on the DOE’s strong partnership with Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources (MIEW) and will deliver jobs and the commercialization of clean energy technologies to improve the economic and energy outlook of regions where the projects are localized.

Projects set to receive monies under the scheme include 3GSOLAR of Jerusalem, Israel, which develops thin and flexible PV cells; Global Solar Energy of Tucson, Arizona, which is working with Haoegenplast of Israel to develop floating PV technology, and Solaris Synergy of Jerusalem, which is also working with Pristine Sun LLC of California on the development of low-cost floating PV systems.

"This partnership with Israel makes possible collaborative investments that move us closer to rigorous technology breakthroughs," enthused Moniz. "These advancements are a key part of modernizing our energy infrastructure, enhancing our energy security, and mitigating the risks of global climate change."

Thus far, the BIRD Energy program has approved 28 projects with a total investment of around $22 million.