MSRDC & Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Science and Technology Research Partnership (STRP)  

04/29/2022 09:49 AM

Over $3.2 million in solar research funding will go to Minority-Serving Institutions through a DOE Program 

Washington D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the MSI STEM Research and Development Consortium (MSRDC), awarded over $3.2 million in solar research projects at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) through the newly developed Science and Technology Research Partnership (STRP) program.  These projects will advance the Biden Administration’s goal of funding innovative clean energy research and development, while also advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields.  

The STRP model aims to expand the technical expertise of the funded universities while also training and increasing the full participation of principal investigators (PIs) from MSIs in the federal funding ecosystem.  All the lead researchers on the selected projects are first-time DOE awardees, in line with the pilot program’s aim to target institutions and researchers who have been historically underrepresented in the DOE research portfolio.  The selected institutions also represent several categories of MSIs: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI).  

“This pilot program is a great opportunity to bring minority-serving institutions into DOE’s research ecosystem,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These researchers will not only bring their innovative ideas and deep scientific expertise, but they will also play a pivotal role in advancing our goal of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields.” 

The pilot focuses on five technical areas of need for SETO; photovoltaics, energy resilience, soft costs of solar, applied solar technologies, and concentrating solar power technologies.  All technical focus areas converge on SETOS goal to accelerate the development and deployment of solar technology to support an equitable transition to a decarbonized electricity system by 2035 and decarbonized energy sector by 2050.  

The projects will span two years and include funding for graduate and undergraduate students and performance training for project team members. 

  • University of the District of Columbia (HBCU), will contribute to improving the functions of photovoltaic (PV) hardware over the long term, maximizing energy yields, lowering the manufacturing cost of PV technologies, and improving PV system modeling to ensure reliable performance predictions. 

  • Texas State University (HSI), will develop a solar and energy storage sharing platform to promote the adoption of affordable solar energy and energy storage by vulnerable communities to improve their energy resilience and ensure reliable energy supply during major grid disturbances.   

  • San Diego State University (HSI and AANAPISI), will develop case studies that will highlight and mitigate public utility power shutoff challenges that disadvantaged communities face and investigate the technical and non-technical resiliency solutions being enacted or envisioned as a response to prolonged power outages.  

  • University of Arizona (HSI), will develop a novel teamed internship & certificate program to educate underrepresented groups in solar technology and promote emerging career opportunities.  The project will examine various training factors that impact cost and artificial barriers to efficient solar technical and engineering operations. 

  • University of New Mexico (HSI), will develop and validate a machine learning enhanced “agrivoltaic” system out of semi-transparent plastic bifacial solar panels in support of the recent combined solar photovoltaic-agriculture practices in the nation.  A second project will design, model, and test an innovative steam generator technology that will significantly reduce the capital cost and the levelized cost of electricity nationwide. 

  • University of Las Vegas, Nevada (HSI), will design and test a prototype that uses power turbine and electric generator coupling to produce significant gains in power conversion efficiency, lower cost, and more reliability.  This technology is expected to contribute to the proliferation of distributed solar dish power sources, and renewable solar energy. 

  • Florida A&M University (HBCU), will develop innovative thermal storage and operation strategies for the dynamic operation of CSP systems that rely on particle thermal energy storage (PTES) solutions. In collaboration with NREL, the proposed project supports the technical challenges of de-risking and cost reduction by exploring a variety of PTES configurations as storage units for other renewable energy sources. 


The Science and Technology Research Partnership (STRP) will create a cadre and pipeline of diverse and highly qualified STEM innovators who  will lead the nation to a decarbonized economy and prosperity. 

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Contact: Claudette Rosado-Reyes, PhD 

Phone: 202.684.7953, ext. 315