The US Department Of Energy (DOE) will provide funding for 12 major hybrid solar projects that are still in the R&D phase. The agency will provide $30 million to be used to develop solar power technologies that either continue to operate in diffuse light conditions or which in some way can store energy from the sun for later use–or which can do both.
The main purpose of the DOE’s support of the 12 projects is to stimulate the development of techniques that take concentrating solar power and solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies beyond their current efficiency levels. Projects were selected on the basis of being most likely to deliver insights into alternative approaches to generating electricity from the sun in reliable, cost-effective ways.
The projects are found in a range of geographical locations across the US by a range of different organisations, from universities to private companies. The technologies under investigation are similarly diverse. Among them are a curved, concentrating solar PV mirror project from Arizona State University which aims to collect both direct and diffuse sunlight, as well as a ‘double reflector hybrid solar energy system’ from the Gas Technology Institute in Illinois that will seek to simultaneously harvest sunlight for electricity and heat. The full list of projects to receive funding can be found on the ARPA-E website (PDF).
The DOE sub-agency behind the funding, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (APRA-E), is dedicated to supporting technologies that are still in the research phase and have not yet been commercialised. The 12 projects selected fall under the umbrella of ARPA-E’s new Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) initiative.
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