Date: Jun 12, 2012 Author: Don Seiffert Source: Mass High Tech (
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Two local universities and three New England companies are all getting grants from the federal Department of Energy to advance the goal of making solar energy cost-competitive with other energy forms by 2020. DOE Secretary Steven Chu made the announcement Wednesday at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit in Denver.
Distributed Energy Research & Solutions Inc., a holding company for Brookline-based EnergySage LLC, will receive up to $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a Web-based reverse-auction service for the residential and commercial solar energy market to bring down the cost of acquiring new customers. Headed by CEO Vikram Aggarwal, the company is one of nine to get a total of $8 million in funding from the DOE’s SunShot Incubator program, aimed at developing ways to make solar installation easier through improved financing, permitting, and inspection.
EnergySage operates a website to show consumers the cost savings possible through solar energy. The company was named one of the Startup Watch’s “Five you should follow” in April.
Chu also announced that Boston University will get up to $800,000 and MIT will receive up to $1 million for three-year applied research projects of concentrated solar power technologies (CSP) - the use of mirrors to focus sunlight and create heat. The BU project relates to developing a new method to keep solar collectors dirt- and dust-free, thereby maintain higher optical efficiencies, while the MIT grant goes to a project to develop concentrated solar thermoelectric generators that contain no moving parts, and convert heat directly into electricity, and can be integrated with thermal storage.
The two university grants are part of $56 million the DOE plans to give to organizations nationwide in the next three years to further CSP. Elsewhere in New England, Brayton Energy in Hampton, N.H. will receive up to $1.6 million for a project to build and test a new solar receiver that uses supercritical carbon dioxide as the heat transfer fluid; and Norwich Technologies of Norwich, Vt. will get up to $300,000 for a project to design an innovative linear receiver that uses advanced geometries, upgrades insulation materials, and replaces expensive and failure-prone vacuums with cavities.
“Through the SunShot Initiative, we’re tackling the technological, scientific and market barriers facing America’s solar industry to make sure solar power continues to play an important role in our diverse energy mix,” said Secretary Chu in a statement. “The investments in Massachusetts and the new competition announced today further our efforts to seize on the tremendous global market for clean energy technologies, representing hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide.”