13 April 2012
The US Department of Energy's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs have announced up to US $9 million in total funding to be distributed among as many as 50 US companies. This opportunity targets small businesses with breakthrough solar cost-reduction proposals or transformational manufacturing and materials technologies.
The SBIR and STTR programs allow federal agencies to set aside a fraction of their research and development budgets to serve as seed capital for early stage research and development (R&D) efforts. These awards strive to foster participation in the marketplace by socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses.
To qualify for either program, a business must be for-profit, at least 51% US-owned, and have 500 or fewer employees in the United States. Under an STTR award, the company must collaborate with a nonprofit research institution. The company is required to perform the majority of the R&D in the SBIR program, but collaboration is optional.
Both programs take a phased R&D approach with three funding levels: feasibility demonstration (Phase I), prototype development (Phase II), and commercialization (Phase III). The applicants selected for Phase I grants under this opportunity may receive up to $150,000 for a nine-month project. If successful, awardees may be eligible for continued funding in Phase II.
This opportunity targets four solar research areas in line with SunShot Initiative goals:
•Photovoltaic module cost reductions that can achieve an installed system cost of $0.50/W by 2020.
•Power electronics (inverters, DC/DC converters, plug-and-play innovations, etc.) cost reductions that can achieve an installed system price of $0.10/W by 2020 or hardware (racking systems, BIPV designs, wire management, etc.) balance-of-system cost reductions that permit an installed system price of $0.18/W by 2020.
•Nonhardware balance-of-system (customer acquisition, permitting, installation, inspection, interconnection, etc.) cost reductions that can achieve an installed system price of $0.22/W by 2020.
•Concentrating solar power (heliostat, trough, molten salt, power cycle, materials reduction, etc.) breakthroughs that can achieve a levelized cost of electricity of $0.05–0.06 kWh.
In addition, the opportunity extends to small businesses with transformational manufacturing processes and materials that can reduce primary energy use in manufacturing by 50% without sacrificing product quality, production throughput, or life cycle cost.
Pre-applications are due 1 May 2012, and full applications must be submitted by 3 July 2012.