Kaptur Announces Nearly $9M in Federal Investment Supporting Northern Ohio Solar Energy Research and Development

November 6, 2019
Press Release
Three Grants Competitively Awarded to The University of Toledo and Eaton Corporation Showcase Northern Ohio’s National Leadership in Solar Research

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, joined representatives and researchers from the University of Toledo and Eaton Corporation at a press conference announcing $8,700,000 in Department of Energy (DOE) funding that will support the two organizations in their research and development of solar technology. The University of Toledo awards follow on the recent and major award the University received from the U.S. Air Force in April.


The grants are a part of $128 million in federal funding that DOE is awarding to 75 research projects across the country to advance solar technologies, which will lower solar electricity costs while working to boost solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make solar systems more resilient to cyberattacks. The funds were awarded competitively, and both highlight and strengthen Northern Ohio’s national leadership in solar technology research.


“Investments from the Department of Energy are yielding real results for ensuring a competitive 21st century solar industry right here in Northern Ohio,” said Rep. Kaptur. “Today’s competitively awarded grants highlight and support Northern Ohio’s important role in the research and development of solar technology. Solar technology will be a monumental part of our economic and clean energy future, not only as a region, but as a nation and as a planet. Innovative institutions including The University of Toledo and Eaton Corporation, both of which are national leaders in photovoltaics research, are moving the ball forward. As the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, I will continue to prioritize Department of Energy programs that fund these important programs and grant opportunities.”  


 “Advancing global leadership in solar energy technology continues to be a critical focus of the University, and we are proud of the incredible progress and determination of our researchers,” said Dr. Frank Calzonetti, University of Toledo’s Vice President of Research. “In the last few months alone, nearly $14 million in competitive federal funding has now been awarded to faculty and students working on cutting-edge solar technology in the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Technology. Providing a strong research underpinning of our region's solar energy industry is central to our mission.”


“Eaton is pleased to have been selected for this DOE Solar Energy Technology research award that will develop capabilities to maintain a reliable power grid, optimize the utilization of behind-the-meter solar generation and improve the return on solar technology investments,” said Tim Avampato, Senior Manager at Eaton Research Labs. “Eaton appreciates our continued partnership with the DOE and Representative Kaptur’s leadership in promoting U.S. solar and grid technology research.”     


Background on DOE Grants:


  1. University of Toledo

Project Name: Toward Low-Cost, Efficient and Stable Perovskite Thin-Film Modules
DOE Award Amount: $4.5 million
Cost Share: $1.1 million
Project Summary: This project will develop high-efficiency perovskite mini modules and investigate deposition techniques that can be scaled up for high-speed manufacturing. The team will work with First Solar, which has world-leading expertise in industrial thin-film photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, degradation testing, and predictive lifetime modeling. To test reliability, the team will develop accelerated stress-testing methods that can detect what degrades perovskite modules outdoors.


  1. University of Toledo/Colorado State University

Project Name: Back-Contact Interface Engineering for Higher Efficiency CdTe PV
DOE Award Amount: $3.5 million (UT’s share is $1.2 million)
Cost Share: $1 million
Project Summary: The rear contact is one of the performance-limiting components of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells, and it will likely need to be dramatically improved for CdTe is to reach monocrystalline silicon cell efficiencies. This project team will identify the best materials to use to make high-quality passivated rear contacts for thin-film CdTe solar cells, and possibly bifacial modules, pushing CdTe technology closer to 25% efficiency while preventing power loss.


  1. Eaton Corporation

Project Name: Risk-Informed Hierarchical Control of Behind-the-Meter DER with AMI Data Integration
DOE Award Amount: $3 million 
Cost Share: $1.2 million 
Project Summary: This project will develop a real-time controller of behind-the-meter distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar and battery storage, and loads to ensure that bulk power system operators or distribution utilities get enough power. Integrating data from smart meters will enable optimal provision of grid services to improve grid reliability in distribution systems with high solar penetration. To enable scaling and minimize adoption risk, the team—along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Electric Power Research Institute, Pecan Street, Provo City Power, and Commonwealth Edison—will work with existing utility infrastructure.