Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
A major emphasis of the Department of Energy Solar Energy Technology Program (SETP) is achieving cost competitiveness and broad commercialization of solar electric technologies in the United States. The SETP is focusing primarily on two areas: (1) Research and development (RD) on photovoltaic (PV) component and system designs, including low-cost approaches for manufacturing them; and (2) technology acceptance activities that address marketplace barriers and offer the opportunity for market expansion. Key elements in the market transformation are the ability to evaluate the performance and reliability of solar products and systems.
As noted in the SETP Multi-Year Program Plan
• Consistently-collected reliability data of fielded systems;
• Data analysis to deduce methods for assessing reliability and to improve accelerated aging tests to create predictive models;
• Improve existing tests and provide more information on best practices for reliability and accelerated aging tests;
• Assessment of the nature and frequency of safety-related issues (arcing, building integration aspects, and ground faults) and their relationship with long-term performance.
Based upon these insights, there is a clear need for data to accomplish the following:
The intent of this RFI is to invite comment on approaches to address the needs described above. The foundation to address these needs is a database consisting of photovoltaic system and component reliability data, as well as performance data, which are collected in a consistent manner. In addition to a database, it is necessary for DOE to collaborate with national laboratories and others to evaluate the data, develop new or modified tests, assess safety, evaluate system and component interactions, and develop predictive models. The following describes a possible approach.
Other ideas are encouraged.
Consistently collect performance and reliability data about fielded systems and their components, in a range of locales over an extended period of time. Large and small systems would be of interest.
• To develop or verify predictive performance and reliability models to better understand system and component interactions in collaboration with the national laboratories and others;
• To evaluate module degradation and failure rates of fielded modules in a range of use conditions in collaboration with the national laboratories and others.
Task 1: System Selection: Systems must be fielded and commercially available. Small-scale systems based on prototypes would be optional. A range of technologies, system sizes, and diverse locales are required. It is also desirable that system owners and site operators will be willing to provide access to research teams to permit on-site measurements. It may be desirable to swap out components for detailed laboratory characterization. In these cases, arrangements for spare components would be necessary to minimize impacts on system operation.
Task 2: Data Monitoring: Use standardized methods for all sites to collect information about system and component performance, reliability, and maintenance.
Task 3: Database: Establish and maintain database.
Task 4: Data Analysis and Reporting. Conduct data review, and periodic consolidation, analysis and reporting of the findings, recommendations and next steps.
Three alternative approaches have been identified.
DOE could issue a competitive FOA for applications, with Applicants providing access to their deployed
The national labs could negotiate individual, non-competitive arrangements with selected participants (companies, test labs, and/or universities) regarding the relative roles and commitments of the various parties to achieve the stated objectives. Negotiations would be on a case-by-case basis, with the national laboratories in the lead coordinating role, based upon their planned work for the DOE SETP in their Annual Operating Plans.
A DOE acquisition process could be used to acquire access to PV systems for the purpose of installing data collection equipment, collecting system performance, reliability, and maintenance data, and monitoring the system. An acquisition could include services to implement the data collection. Data could be collected by a site custodian, a third party, a national laboratory team, or a combination of options.
In all cases the data collected would be analyzed to establish capabilities by a national laboratory team, in which DOE has already invested. Opportunities would exist for additional collaboration with other testing facilities to participate in achieving the common goals. Results would be made public in a summary form that would not be identifiable by system or manufacturer. Participants in the project would be given the summary information, along with their particular system/component data. This would offer them the benefit of knowing how their specific use condition compares with others under a particular set of criteria. Those not in the program will have access to the summary public information.
Respondents are asked to specifically comment on the above proposed strategy, and the questions below. Respondents are free to comment on the general concept, potential benefits or obstacles, the overall merits of this idea, other alternatives, and the relative priority of this activity.
DOE will evaluate responses to this RFI to determine the best approach to move forward. If a FOA or an acquisition process is warranted, DOE would formulate the content based on these comments and program needs. DOE may determine that a FOA or an acquisition process is NOT needed, and that companies will make individual arrangements with the national laboratories.
DOE will not pay for information provided under this Request for Information (RFI), and there is no guarantee that a project will be supported as a result of this RFI. This RFI is not accepting applications for financial assistance or financial incentives. Response to the RFI will not be viewed as a binding commitment for the respondent to develop or pursue the project or ideas discussed. DOE may also decide at a later date to issue Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), based on consideration of the input received from this RFI.
Respondents are requested to provide the following information in their submission of comments in response to this RFI.
• Company/institutional name, Company/institutional contact.
• Address, phone number, e-mail address.
• Type of business or institution.
Responses should be limited to 5 pages. However, more than one response is allowed. Please identify your answers by responding to a specific question or topic if possible. We welcome other comments as well. Identifying the comment with the item it refers to will facilitate aggregating all the responses. Any information obtained as a result of this RFI is intended to be used by the Government on a non-attribution basis for program planning and procurement strategy development. Information or data that is restricted in any way or limited for use by the government is not solicited and will not be considered. Please do not respond with any information you deem proprietary or confidential.
The Department will not respond to those who submit comments, and/or give any feedback on any decision made based on the comments received, as there is potential for a future Funding Opportunity relative to this subject, informed by the total comments received.
The Department thanks you for your assistance and comments.