Open Innovation Challenges

Solar Manufacturing Incubator

Open Challenge: The 2022 Solar Manufacturing Incubator Funding Opportunity

Solar Manufacturing Incubator
Deadline for concept summaries: September 16, 2022


The 2022 Solar Manufacturing Incubator Funding Opportunity, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), seeks to develop next-generation solar technologies and strengthen American solar manufacturing. To do so, the prize helps accelerate the commercialization of innovative product ideas that enable continued solar cost reductions, especially in cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaics.

Who Should Apply

For-profit businesses incorporated and physically based in the U.S. with innovative research, development, and demonstration projects that enable continued cost reductions in solar manufacturing



As buildings, transportation, and industry are electrified in the coming decades, demand for electricity will increase rapidly: solar energy holds exciting potential to fill this demand. However, to reach solar generation levels necessary to decarbonize the grid, solar deployment must grow by an average of 30 GWac each year between now and 2025 and ramp up to 60 GWac per year between 2025 and 2030 – four times its current deployment rate. By 2035, a total of 1,000 GWac of solar generation must be deployed; and to reach a fully decarbonized grid with enhanced electrification across sectors, 1,600 GWac of solar must be deployed by 2050.

Solar manufacturing is already beginning to meet this demand – in 2019, the country’s PV module manufacturing capacity more than tripled. However, innovation is imperative to sustain this growth. To help identify emerging opportunities, drive down manufacturing costs for our domestic energy market, and position the U.S. as a leader in the solar manufacturing space, SETO announced the Fiscal Year 2022 Solar Manufacturing Incubator Funding Opportunity. The funding opportunity will award $27 million for projects to accelerate commercialization of innovative product ideas that can increase U.S. domestic manufacturing across the solar industry supply chain and expand private investment in America’s solar manufacturing sector.

Possible approaches

For Topic Area 1:

  • Developing technologies that increase the power conversion efficiency of CdTe cells and modules
  • Developing innovative technologies that can reduce the installed cost of co-located agriculture and solar systems, optimize both energy and agricultural yield, and/or enable additional value to farmers and agricultural communities
  • Developing integration technologies for installing PVs into vehicles (cars, trucks, etc), vehicle-associated surfaces (trailers, containers, etc), and transportation-adjacent surfaces (parking lots, sidewalks, bridges, etc).
  • Developing innovative equipment in the deposition techniques of perovskite technology  that spurs high performance, high stability, low cost, and verifiable performance of PV technologies
  • Developing new power-electronics equipment that leverages the dropping costs of SiC and/or gallium nitride (GaN) grown on SiC wafers to create competitive alternatives to silicon-based industry standards.


For Topic Area 2:

  • Developing high-volume or high-throughput manufacturing processes for CdTe solar hardware or supply chain components that reduce energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions, and can be manufactured competitively in the United States
  • Producing a sufficiently large number of CdTe modules for statistically robust field testing and validation
  • Demonstrating new CdTe hardware components or novel system architectures in robust, commercially relevant pilot tests


How to Apply 

Applicants must register with and submit application materials through EERE Exchange at EERE’s online application portal.

A Letter of Intent (LOI) submission is required by September 16, 2022 at 5pm ET to be eligible for a full submission. Each LOI must provide the following information:

  • Project title
  • Lead organization
  • Organization type and size
  • Whether the application has been previously submitted to EERE
  • % of effort contributed by the lead organization
  • Project team, including principal investigator, team members, and key participants with substantive contribution
  • Technical topic or area
  • Abstract explaining proposed project (< 200 words)


The full application deadline is October 3, 2022 at 5pm ET. The following items constitute a full submission package:

  • Technical Volume (key technical component of application)
  • SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance
  • SF-424A Budget & Budget Justification
  • Summary for Public Release
  • Summary Slide
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan
  • Letters of Commitment
  • Resumes
  • Administrative Documents: FFRDC Work Proposal and Authorization (if applicable), Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (SF-LLL), Foreign Work Waver(s) (if applicable), and Current and Pending Support


Prize Structure 

Applicants are responsible for meeting each deadline in the submission and review process, as listed below. The evaluation process consists of multiple phases, each including an initial eligibility review and a rigorous technical review. Technical reviews are conducted by reviewers who are experts in the solar manufacturing space. As part of the evaluation process, EERE may request applicants to provide pre-selection interviews and/or clarifications. 

EERE expects to make a total of approximately $27 million of federal funding available for approximately 7-24 awards under this FOA. Individual awards may vary between $0.5 million and $10 million.

TitleAnticipated # of
Award Size
Award Size
Total Available
Federal Funding
Period of
Performance (Months)
2Demonstration of
CdTe Photovoltaic

Additional Information

  • Funding should help lower technical, business, and market risks to validate potential commercial pathways, while spurring follow-on private investment, business expansion, revenue generation, and job creation
  • Projects should fall under either of two topic areas: (1) product research and development across the solar value chain or (2) demonstration of CdTe photovoltaic technologies
  • Applicants must agree to take on at least 20% of the total allowable costs for R&D projects and 50% for commercial application projects
  • Additional requirements and formal eligibility are explained in Section III of the FOA

Important Dates

  • Submission Deadline for Letter of Intent: September 16, 2022, 5pm ET
  • Submission Deadline for Full Applicants: October 3, 2022, 5pm ET
  • Submission Deadline for Replies to Reviewer Comments: November 10, 2022. 5pm ET
  • Date for EERE Selection Notifications: January 31, 2023
  • Date for Award Negotiations: May 2023

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us

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