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Spark Proposals

The new Spark project format will fund research aimed specifically at innovative concepts that will increase module reliability and performance.

Proposal window is now closed.

Send questions to DuraMAT@nrel.gov.


Spark Proposal Purpose

Spark proposals are intended to be short-term (6–12 month) projects that serve a defined need, bridge gaps in DuraMAT's core objective areas, or address a previously unidentified opportunity for research to impact the PV industry. The budget for each Spark project is limited to $65,000.

Successful proposals will display a measurable near-term impact by establishing new areas of research, proving out a new technique, bridging gaps in DuraMAT capabilities, or answering an urgent question for the PV community. Proposals must have a well-defined, short-term work plan with one or two key tasks that will accomplish the proposal's goals.

Proposed work should address the DuraMAT goal of accelerating a sustainable, just, and equitable transition to zero-carbon electricity generation by 2035 by addressing these two questions:

  1. Which materials and module designs will enable sustainable, high-energy-yield, 50-year modules, and how do we ensure that these new modules are not going to fail prematurely?
  2. What triggers wear-out, defined as a rapid increase in degradation at end of life, and what are the characteristics, rates, and mechanisms of long-term degradation in PV modules?

Ideas must fit within the scope of DuraMAT. See www.duramat.org for more details.

Eligibility

National laboratory staff are encouraged to submit proposals for funding. All Spark funding must stay within DOE national laboratories. Industry and university staff may team with the national laboratories for funded work to be done at the national laboratories. Proposals must have a national lab PI or co-PI. All proposals are encouraged to work in collaboration with industry, university, and other national laboratories.

Proposal Format

When DuraMAT is accepting new Sparks, proposals must be submitted using the supplied template. Page and content limits will be strictly enforced, and no alternative submission methods will be accepted.

Proposal Evaluation

Proposals were due  by 12 p.m. MT on Nov. 3, 2022.

Proposals will be screened for adherence to the above guidelines and relevance to the Spark priorities. Proposals that meet these criteria will be reviewed by technical experts on the DuraMAT Industry Advisory Board. Any members involved in a proposal will recuse themselves. The DuraMAT Industry Advisory Board will consider each proposal based on the following metrics:

Technical Merit

  • Does the project effectively do one of the following?
    • Establish a new research area for a future proposal
    • Validate or demonstrate a new technique, model, or material
    • Fill a gap in existing DuraMAT capabilities
    • Answer an urgent question from the DuraMAT IAB that is relevant to the PV community
  • Is the workplan clearly articulated and effective in achieving the goals of the project?
  • Are the milestones and deliverables clearly articulated and appropriate?
  • Who is the main beneficiary of the work (one company, a university, publication, multiple entities, etc.?)
  • What is the likelihood that this proposal would lead to successful follow-on proposals?
  • What is the likelihood of the proposed work to succeed based on the budget and work period proposed?

Technical Impact

  • Does the proposal address an important research question or technical problem?
  • What is the potential impact of this work on module performance, system reliability, or the levelized cost of electricity of PV generation if it is successful?
  • If the proposed work is unsuccessful, what can DuraMAT or the PV community learn?
  • How might the proposed work add to DuraMAT capabilities, or leverage current capabilities?

Proposal Selection

The DuraMAT leadership team will evaluate the review by the industry advisory board and approve the highly ranked proposals for funding.