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Capability Development

The capability development process will grow DuraMAT's expertise, tools, and access to facilities while improving research capabilities that will help to increase PV module reliability and performance.

DuraMAT Capability Development Process — Annual Submission Review

Capability Development Lab Call Purpose

The purpose of the DuraMAT National Laboratory proposal program is to fund infrastructure, research capabilities, and longer-term research in photovoltaic (PV) module packaging and components that will increase module reliability and performance while decreasing technology risk and the levelized cost of electricity for photovoltaic systems. Proposals are intended to be 1, 2, or 2+ year efforts, with the maximum duration of funding concluding at the end of Sept. 2021. The DuraMAT Consortium is comprised of a Capability Network that is currently divided into six core areas: Data Management and Analytics, Predictive Simulation, Materials Characterization and Forensics, Module Accelerated Testing, Field Testing, and Techno-Economic Analysis. Proposals should leverage this network and build on the resources established in FY17 and FY18. Descriptions of these capabilities are available at www.duraMAT.org/capabilities. Proposals should address the Sunshot reliability goals of reducing the module degradation rate from 0.75% to 0.2% and O&M costs from $12/kW-yr to $4/kWyr or reducing the level of uncertainty in either parameter. (SETO 2017)

During the 2018 Fall Workshop, DuraMAT participants and the Industry Advisory Board identified four critical research outcomes for DuraMAT to accomplish by 2021 that are the focus of this call (listed below). Proposals may leverage several capabilities and topics or focus in a single area.

  1. Evolve the DuraMAT DataHub into the Central Data Resource for PV
    1. Result: DuraMat is considered a central and indispensable resource for the analysis of degradation information, especially in terms of time-series data sets, accelerated testing, simulation results, and materials characterization. DuraMAT also provides visualization and analysis tools to utilize the combined data sets.
  2. Create a Multi-Scale, Multi-Physics Model
    1.  A predictive model for module thermo-mechanical and electrical performance over time and under different environmental stresses. The model may include electrical, mechanical, thermo-mechanical, reaction-diffusion, and other sub-modules at multiple scales. Examples include: moisture/chemical transport/kinetics (e.g. corrosion, delamination), dynamic loading- (e.g. vibrations, drops, impacts), static loading, viscoelasticity, fatigue, material aging models, and more. Models will integrate with the DataHUB and heterogeneous data, materials forensics data, and accelerated testing.
  3. Develop Disruptive Acceleration Science
    1. Novel testing approaches that simultaneously reveal multiple (or all) failure modes based on the weaknesses of the module materials and design under environmental conditions. Optimized and validated acceleration science (degradation rates/rate constants, identification of modes and stresses/interactions, integration of predictive models, module forensics, etc) for comprehensive predition of field degradation; include all relevant stressors. Test approaches should seek to minimize or reduce the number of tests or time under test required to de-risk materials, designs, or products.
  4. Develop Fielded Module Forensics
    1. Provide a tool kit for determining the source of fielded module failures. Including identification of known failure modes, discovery of new failure modes, determination of
      rate equations, and providing in-field testing methods and materials solutions. Forensics can include validation of field metrology techniques with detailed laboratory characterization, identification of complementary characterization techniquies, approaches that can track degradation over time to screen for failure modes, correlation of accelerated and laboratory/field results, integration with predictive modeling, and analytical techniques that can leverage heterogeneous data.

Successful proposals will be expected to have a mid- to long-term impact by opening new areas of research, establishing new capabilities, expanding or enhancing existing capabilities, demonstrating use cases for capabilities, and creating effective links between capabilities at the national laboratories which also must directly address at least one of the four critical outcomes. Proposals must have a well-defined work plan with clear yearly milestones and deliverables. Proposals are encouraged to include industry participation and should address problems or challenges identified as longer-term research needs by the PV industry.

The DuraMAT Consortium supports research opportunities in PV modules and systems excluding the cell (PV absorber or contacts). For example, research may include innovative accelerated testing, novel packaging materials and design, simulations or modeling that predict the durability and degradation mechanisms of new materials or designs, new data analytics that connect accelerated testing to field performance, data and risk-based technology evaluation tools, and more.  

Eligibility

National Laboratory staff are encouraged to submit proposals for funding. Proposals must have a National Lab PI from a DuraMAT core lab (NREL, Sandia, SLAC, or LBNL). PIs with Spark proposals from other national labs will be eligible to apply after the successful and timely completion of their Sparks. Proposals may include team members from industry, national labs, academia, etc., but funding must stay within the DOE national laboratories. More information on working with DuraMAT can be found at https://www.duramat.org/working-with-us.html.

Proposal Format

Proposals must be submitted using the Word template attached to this email and available at www.duramat.org. Proposals are strictly limited to five pages. References, resumes, letters of support, and current/pending support info should be appended to the proposal file and are excluded from the page limit. No information outside of the page limit will be considered.

Proposal Evaluation

Submitted proposals will be screened for adherence to the above guidelines and relevance to the targeted DuraMAT critical outcomes. Proposals that meet these criteria will be reviewed by technical experts on the DuraMAT Industry Advisory Board using the following criteria. Any members involved in a proposal will recuse themselves. Each proposal will be considered based on the following metrics:

Technical Merit (70%)

  • Does the project effectively address one or more critical outcome priority topic areas?
  • How does this project impact the SunShot goals of reducing system degradation rates of 0.2% and reducing O&M costs to <$4/kW-year or uncertainty in either parameter?
  • What is the potential impact of this work on achieving the critical outcomes identified above if it is successful?
  • How might the proposed work build on the DuraMAT capability network and integrate with the existing network?
  • What is the likelihood that this capability would be effectively leveraged by DuraMAT collaborators in the solar industry?
  • What is the plan for stakeholder engagement to use this capability or build on the results from this work?
  • If the proposed work is unsuccessful, what can DuraMAT or the PV community learn?

Organization and Execution (30%)

  • Is the workplan clearly articulated and effective in achieving the goals of the project?
  • Are the milestones and deliverables clearly articulated and appropriate?
  • What is the likelihood of the proposed work to succeed based on the budget and work period proposed?
  • Does the team have the skills and resources necessary to build this capability?
  • Is this proposed capability differentiated from the team’s research in other SETO-funded reliability efforts (e.g. SETO lab call, PVQAT, PVRD, PREDICTS, etc.) and how does it compare to the current state of the art?

Proposal Selection

The DuraMAT industry advisory board will review proposals according to the merit criteria above. The DuraMAT Leadership Team will make programmatic recommendations based on those rankings to SETO, and the DOE SETO program manager will have final selection authority. DuraMAT anticipates making selections in June 2019 for work starting in FY19. 

Total Award Funding for this call: $2,500,000 - $3,000,000

Estimated project funding: $100,000-400,000 per year. A multi-laboratory proposal that is highly collaborative would be considered for up to $600,000 per year.

Download the Proposal Template

Send completed proposals to duramat@nrel.gov by 11:59 p.m. MT on March 15, 2019.