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S. 2668: Solar Energy Research and Development Act of 2019


The text of the bill below is as of Oct 22, 2019 (Introduced).


II

116th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 2668

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

October 22, 2019

introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

A BILL

To establish a program for research, development, and demonstration of solar energy technologies, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Solar Energy Research and Development Act of 2019.

2.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Economically distressed area

The term economically distressed area means an area described in section 301(a) of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3161(a)).

(2)

Eligible entity

The term eligible entity means—

(A)

an institution of higher education;

(B)

a National Laboratory;

(C)

a Federal research agency;

(D)

a State research agency;

(E)

a nonprofit research organization;

(F)

an industrial entity; and

(G)

a consortium of 2 or more entities described in subparagraphs (A) through (F).

(3)

Indian tribe

The term Indian tribe has the meaning given the term in section 4 of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (25 U.S.C. 4103).

(4)

Institution of higher education

The term institution of higher education has the meaning given the term in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001).

(5)

National Laboratory

The term National Laboratory has the meaning given the term in section 2 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 15801).

(6)

Photovoltaic device

The term photovoltaic device means—

(A)

a device that converts light directly into electricity through a solid-state, semiconductor process;

(B)

the photovoltaic cells of a device described in subparagraph (A); and

(C)

the electronic and electrical components of a device described in subparagraph (A).

(7)

Program

The term program means the program established under section 3(a)(1).

(8)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Energy.

3.

Solar energy technology program

(a)

Program

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall establish a solar energy technology program under which the Secretary shall—

(A)

award grants on a competitive, merit-reviewed basis to eligible entities to conduct research, development, testing, and evaluation of solar energy technologies; and

(B)

carry out other activities in accordance with this section.

(2)

Purposes

The purposes of the program are the following:

(A)

To improve the energy efficiency, reliability, resilience, security, and capacity of solar energy generation.

(B)

To optimize the design and adaptability of solar energy systems to the broadest practical range of geographic and atmospheric conditions.

(C)

To reduce the cost of manufacturing, installation, operation, and maintenance of solar energy systems.

(D)

To create and improve conversion of solar energy to useful forms.

(3)

Targets

In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall address near-term (up to 2 years), mid-term (up to 7 years), and long-term (up to 15 years) challenges to the advancement of solar energy systems.

(4)

Stewardship of National Laboratory resources

In awarding grants under the program, the Secretary shall steward relevant capabilities and programs of the National Laboratories.

(5)

Technical assistance and workforce development

In carrying out the program, for purposes of supporting technical, nonhardware, and information-based advances in solar energy systems development and operations, the Secretary may—

(A)

provide technical assistance and carry out analysis activities with eligible entities, including activities that support expanding access to solar energy for low-income individuals and communities, including in economically distressed areas; and

(B)

carry out workforce development and training activities, including to support the dissemination of standards and best practices for enabling solar power production.

(6)

Wildlife impact mitigation

In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, support wildlife impact mitigation technologies and strategies, including the use of distributed solar technologies, to reduce the potential negative impacts of solar energy systems on fish or wildlife, or plants (as those terms are defined in section 3 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1532)).

(7)

Sustainable chemistry

Each entity receiving a grant under the program shall endeavor, in carrying out activities under the grant, to incorporate, where appropriate, sustainable and green chemistry and engineering principles, practices, and methodologies.

(b)

Grant subject areas

In addition to awarding the grants described in subsections (c) through (e), the Secretary shall award grants under the program to eligible entities to carry out research, development, testing, and evaluation in the following subject areas:

(1)

Photovoltaic devices and related electronic components, including converters, sensors, energy monitors, communication and control equipment, and protocols.

(2)

Concentrated solar power, including solar thermal and concentrating solar photovoltaic technologies.

(3)

Low cost, high-quality solar energy systems.

(4)

Solar heating and cooling systems, including distributed solar-powered air conditioning.

(5)

Low cost, thin-film solar technologies, including the use of perovskite materials in solar cells.

(6)

Solar technology products that can be easily integrated into new buildings, existing buildings, agricultural and aquatic environments, and other infrastructure.

(7)

Solar technology that is resilient to extreme weather events.

(8)

Solar technology products integrated into transportation applications in coordination with vehicle technologies research and development activities supported by the Department of Energy.

(9)

Storage technologies that address the transience and intermittency of solar energy resources, including batteries, supercapacitors, and thermal storage.

(10)

Microgrids using solar technology.

(11)

Solar technologies enabling safe grid operating conditions, such as fast-disconnect during an emergency.

(12)

Distributed solar energy technologies, such as rooftop solar panels.

(13)

Technologies and designs that enable a broad range of scales for solar power production.

(14)

Advanced solar manufacturing technologies and best practices, including—

(A)

materials and processes;

(B)

development of industry standards;

(C)

design and integration practices; and

(D)

optimized packaging methods and new device designs.

(15)

Advanced analytic and computing capabilities for better modeling and simulations of solar energy systems.

(16)

Electrical grid integration, including—

(A)

integration of solar technologies into smart grid, transmission, and distribution;

(B)

coordination of solar with other distributed and large-scale energy resources;

(C)

electrical power smoothing;

(D)

microgrid integration;

(E)

community solar;

(F)

solar resource forecasting;

(G)

regional and national electric system balancing and long-distance transmission options, including direct current and superconducting transmission and long-term storage options;

(H)

ways to address system operations over minutes, hours, days, weeks, and seasons with respect to the full range of project scales; and

(I)

electric grid security, including cyber and physical security.

(17)

Nonhardware and information-based advances in solar energy system design, installation, and operation.

(18)

Solar energy technology relating to behind-the-meter strategies, including with respect to electricity generation, load, energy efficiency, controls, storage, and electric vehicles.

(19)

Next generation demonstration facilities.

(20)

Any other subject area determined by the Secretary.

(c)

Solar energy technology demonstration grants

(1)

In General

In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall award multiyear grants to eligible entities to carry out demonstration projects to advance the development of solar energy technologies and systems production.

(2)

Priority

In awarding grants under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall give priority to projects that—

(A)

are located in geographically diverse regions of the United States;

(B)

can be replicated in a variety of regions and climates;

(C)

demonstrate technologies that address intermittency, variability, storage challenges, behind-the-meter operations, and independent operational capability;

(D)

coordinate solar technologies with other distributed and large-scale energy resources;

(E)

facilitate identification of optimum approaches among competing solar energy technologies;

(F)

include business commercialization plans that have the potential for production of solar energy equipment at high volumes;

(G)

support the development of advanced manufacturing technologies that have the potential to improve United States competitiveness in the international solar energy manufacturing sector;

(H)

provide the greatest potential to reduce energy costs for consumers and promote accessibility and community implementation of demonstrated technologies;

(I)

increase disclosure and transparency of information to all market participants;

(J)

promote overall electric infrastructure reliability and resilience in the event of grid functions being disrupted or damaged;

(K)

support the development or demonstration of projects in collaboration with Indian tribes and in economically distressed areas; and

(L)

satisfy any other priority that the Secretary determines appropriate.

(3)

Use of funds

To the extent that funding is not otherwise available through other Federal programs or power purchase agreements, grants awarded under paragraph (1) may be used for—

(A)

any necessary site engineering study;

(B)

an economic assessment of site-specific conditions;

(C)

appropriate feasibility studies to determine whether the demonstration project may be replicated;

(D)

installation of equipment, service, and support;

(E)

operating the demonstration project for not less than the minimum period required to fully assess the results and objectives of the project, as determined by a peer-reviewed process; and

(F)

validation of technical, economic, and environmental assumptions and documentation of lessons learned.

(4)

Solicitation

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall conduct a national solicitation for applications for grants described in paragraph (1).

(5)

Organic photovoltaic cell technologies

At least 1 grant awarded under paragraph (1) during fiscal year 2020 shall be for a project to demonstrate organic photovoltaic cell technologies.

(d)

Next generation solar energy manufacturing initiative

(1)

Grants

In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall award multiyear grants to eligible entities for research, development, and demonstration projects to advance new solar energy manufacturing technologies and techniques, including to manufacture solar cells, hardware, and enabling devices.

(2)

Priority

In awarding grants under paragraph (1), to the extent practicable, the Secretary shall—

(A)

follow the recommendations in the report described in paragraph (3)(B)(ii); and

(B)

give priority to solar energy manufacturing projects that—

(i)

reduce capital expenditures or provide lower-cost manufacturing options;

(ii)

eliminate manufacturing process steps;

(iii)

reduce energy, water, and material inputs;

(iv)

establish alternative supply chains for materials and components;

(v)

are located on land owned by Indian tribes;

(vi)

are located on land in economically distressed areas; and

(vii)

take advantage of rapid prototyping, small batch manufacturing, and roll-to-roll processing.

(3)

Strategic vision study

(A)

In general

The Secretary shall conduct a study on the viable market opportunities available for solar energy technology manufacturing in the United States, including solar cells, hardware, and enabling technologies.

(B)

Report

Not later than September 1, 2020, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives, and any other relevant Committee of Congress a report containing the results of the study under subparagraph (A), including—

(i)

a description of—

(I)

the ability of relevant businesses or other entities to competitively manufacture solar technology in the United States, including the manufacture of—

(aa)

new and advanced materials, such as cells made with new, cost-effective, high-efficiency materials;

(bb)

solar module equipment and enabling technologies, including smart inverters, sensors, and tracking equipment; and

(cc)

innovative solar module designs and applications, including designs and applications that can directly integrate with new and existing buildings and other infrastructure; and

(II)

opportunities and barriers in solar energy technology supply chains in the United States and internationally;

(ii)

policy recommendations for enhancing solar energy technology manufacturing in the United States;

(iii)

an aggressive 10-year target and plan, beginning in calendar year 2021, to enhance the competitiveness of solar energy technology manufacturing in the United States; and

(iv)

needs for future research, development, and demonstration projects in solar manufacturing and related areas, as determined by the Secretary.

(4)

Evaluation

Not later than 3 years after the date on which the report under paragraph (3)(B) is submitted, and every 4 years thereafter, the Secretary shall conduct, and make available to the public and the relevant committees of Congress, an independent review of the progress of the grants awarded under paragraph (1) in meeting the recommendations and targets included in the report.

(e)

Photovoltaic device recycling research, development, and demonstration grants

(1)

In general

In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall award multiyear grants to eligible entities for research, development, and demonstration projects to create innovative and practical approaches to increase the reuse and recycling of photovoltaic devices, including by addressing—

(A)

technology to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic device recycling and maximize the recovery of valuable raw materials for use in new products while minimizing the lifecycle environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions and water usage;

(B)

expanded uses for materials from recycled photovoltaic devices;

(C)

the development and demonstration of environmentally responsible alternatives to the use of hazardous materials in photovoltaic devices and the production of those devices;

(D)

the development of methods to separate and remove hazardous materials from photovoltaic devices and to recycle or dispose of those materials in a safe manner;

(E)

product design and construction to facilitate disassembly and recycling of photovoltaic devices;

(F)

tools and methods to aid in assessing the environmental impacts of the production of photovoltaic devices and photovoltaic device recycling and disposal;

(G)

product design and construction and other tools and techniques to extend the lifecycle of photovoltaic devices, including methods to promote the safe reuse of those devices;

(H)

strategies to increase consumer acceptance and practice of recycling of photovoltaic devices;

(I)

the development or demonstration of projects in collaboration with Indian tribes and in economically distressed areas; and

(J)

processes to reduce the costs and environmental impact of disposal of toxic materials used in photovoltaic devices.

(2)

Applications

An eligible entity seeking a grant under paragraph (1) shall submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require, including a description of—

(A)

the proposed project and the contributions of each participating entity;

(B)

the applicability of the project to increasing the reuse and recycling of photovoltaic devices with the least environmental impacts as measured by lifecycle analyses;

(C)

the potential for incorporating the research results into industry practice; and

(D)

the manner in which the project will promote collaboration among scientists and engineers from different disciplines, such as the electrical engineering, materials science, and social science disciplines.

(3)

Dissemination of results

The Secretary shall publish the results of the projects carried out through grants awarded under paragraph (1) through—

(A)

best practices or training materials relating to those grants, for use in the photovoltaics manufacturing, design, installation, refurbishing, or recycling industries;

(B)

coordination with information dissemination programs relating to general recycling of electronic devices; and

(C)

educational materials for the public, produced in conjunction with State and local governments or nonprofit organizations, on the problems and solutions relating to the reuse and recycling of photovoltaic devices.

(f)

Photovoltaic materials physical property database

(1)

In general

Not later than September 1, 2021, the Secretary shall establish a comprehensive physical property database of materials for use in photovoltaic devices, which shall include—

(A)

identification of materials used in photovoltaic devices;

(B)

the quantity of each commercially available material identified under subparagraph (A) and the country of origin of that material;

(C)

the quantity of materials used in photovoltaic devices projected to be available through mining or recycling of photovoltaic and other electronic devices; and

(D)

a list of other significant uses for each material identified under subparagraph (A).

(2)

Priorities

Not later than September 1, 2020, the Secretary, in collaboration with private industry, shall develop a plan to establish priorities and requirements for the database described in paragraph (1), including the protection of proprietary information, trade secrets, and other confidential business information.

(3)

Coordination

The Secretary shall coordinate with the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the incorporation of the database under paragraph (1) with any existing database for materials involved in electronic manufacturing and recycling.

(g)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out the program such sums as are necessary for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024.

4.

Conforming amendments

(a)

The Solar Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5551 et seq.) is repealed.

(b)

Section 6(b)(3) of the Federal Nonnuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5905(b)(3)) is amended—

(1)

by striking subparagraph (L); and

(2)

by redesignating subparagraphs (M) through (S) as subparagraphs (L) through (R), respectively.

(c)

The Solar Photovoltaic Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1978 (42 U.S.C. 5581 et seq.) is repealed.

(d)

Section 4(a) of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technology Competitiveness Act of 1989 (42 U.S.C. 12003(a)) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking photovoltaics, and solar thermal energy and inserting alcohol from biomass, and other technologies;

(2)

by striking paragraphs (2) and (3); and

(3)

by redesignating paragraphs (4) and (5) as paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively.

(e)

Section 931 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16231) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a)(2)—

(A)

by striking subparagraph (A); and

(B)

by redesignating subparagraphs (B) through (E) as subparagraphs (A) through (D), respectively;

(2)

by striking subsection (d); and

(3)

by redesignating subsections (e) through (g) as subsections (d) through (f), respectively.

(f)

Sections 606 and 607 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17174, 17175) are repealed.

5.

Savings provision

The repeal of the Solar Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5551 et seq.) under section 4(a) shall not affect the authority of the Secretary to conduct research and development on solar energy.