NST Wins DOE Solar Research Grant

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DOE Phase I SBIR Grants Awarded to Norwich Solar

Jonathan Lynch
NST VP of R&D Jonathan Lynch

Norwich Solar has been awarded a U.S. Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant to develop a distributed scale concentrating solar power (CSP) system incorporating a novel long duration thermal storage system. The resulting solar power system will be capable of 24/7 generation. This capability to generate using renewable energy at any time of day will become critical as increasing amounts of solar generation are added to the electrical grid.

As grid penetration by wind and solar resources continues to increase, the intermittency and time of peak production of these resources can create issues with grid stability and load management. Concentrated solar power coupled with long duration storage creates a flexible and fully dispatchable solution for renewable electricity generation. The proposed renewable power system can be integrated into the electrical grid at much higher percentage levels than existing solar systems, enabling truly widespread deployment. CSP coupled with the proposed thermal storage system will result in a low-cost base load power source that can economically replace conventional generation in the grid system.

CSP systems to date have been focused on large utility-scale projects, with long development cycles and high capital costs. Norwich Solar is focusing its design efforts on power systems scaled to meet the direct needs of commercial and industrial customers, with power systems ranging from 500kW to 10MW in capacity. These distributed scale CSP systems will be faster to install and easier to finance that existing utility scale CSP systems.

Solar Research and Development

The objective of SBIR Phase I programs is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed concept, and are typically 6-12 months in duration. Phase I participants can apply for additional SBIR Phase II funding, which is awarded competitively based on the results achieved in Phase I, and the technical merit and commercial potential of the proposed Phase II project.

During this Phase I SBIR project, Norwich Solar will carry out concept and preliminary designs for its novel energy storage system, as well as for the proposed CSP power plant. NST will then carry out a partial-scale demonstration of its new thermal storage system, and finally will design a complete field demonstration power system for deployment during Phase II of the SBIR program. The Phase I program has a nine month schedule for completion.

About the SBIR Program

Doe LogoThe SBIR program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal research and development with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated, and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

The objectives of the Department of Energy SBIR program are to increase private sector commercialization of technology developed through research and development, stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, and improve the return on investment from Federally-funded research. Projects must have the potential for commercialization and meet specific DOE mission-specific R&D needs. Norwich Solar is working with support from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to ensure the program aligns with their overall research goals.

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