Credit: CNSE.

DOE Secretary Steven Chu made two major announcements today that indicate the agencies strong and continued support for renewable energy such as advanced hydro and photovoltaic power systems.

In the first announcement, Chu and Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar indicate that they are soliciting proposals for over $26 million which will be provided to four areas of advanced hydropower projects. According to a DOE news release, the four areas that will receive R&D funding over a three-year span (except where indicated) are:

  • Sustainable Small Hydropower ($10.5 million): For low-head small hydropower technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed in existing or constructed waterways.
  • Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower ($2.25 million): For technologies that feature enhanced environmental performance designs to increase electricity generation.
  • Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower ($11.875 million, over 4 years): To accelerate existing pumped storage projects (construction by 2014) and integrate wind and/or solar, preferred.
  • Advanced Conventional Hydropower System Testing ($2.0 million): For work at Bureau of Reclamation facilities to support system tests.

DOE’s Wind and Water Power Program will evaluate the applications (see metrics and guidelines). Letters of intent (mandatory) are due May 5, 2011; completed applications are due June 6, 2011.

The second announcement involves more money — $110 million — and has to do with actual awards (versus solicitations) to three groups related to advanced photovoltaic technologies that will become part of the DOE’s SunShot portfolio of projects.

Here are the awardees:

  • Bay Area PV Consortium, Stanford, Calif., ($25 million): For R&D work on high-volume PV manufacturing to drive down costs and drive up efficiencies. The consortium will be co-managed by Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. A DOE release also says, “An industry board composed of representatives from PV companies will determine the specific topics for research and development to assure close alignment with industry and manufacturing needs.”
  • SVTC Technologies, San Jose, Calif., ($25 million): To create a fee-for-service PV manufacturing development facility (MDF) entrepreneurs cut initial capital investments and operating costs. According to the DOE, the MDF project “will potentially accelerate development and time to market by 12 to 15 months.”
  • U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium, Albany, N.Y., and Palm Bay, Fla., ($62.5 million with matching industry funding): To coordinate and accelerate the development of next‐generation copper indium gallium selenide thin film PV manufacturing. This project will be managed by Sematech, an organization best known as being credited with providing a big boost to the United State’s semiconductor industry.  This project will include a partnership with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at Albany to create a prototyping manufacturing development facility. The PVMC will also include a partnership with the University of Central Florida (most likely through the school’s NanoScience Technology Center) to develop efficient CIGS in-line measurement and inspection tools to enable increased PV manufacturing yield.  Finally, the PVMC is supposed to develop PV workforce-development projects.