Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: Will this grant require a form SF-424 to be completed?, if yes, is there a resource you can recommend that can answer questions?
Answer 1: Yes, an SF-424 will need to be completed in order to apply to this FOA.  The document itself contains detailed instructions. Please see Section IV. Application and Submission Information, for a complete list of required forms.  All questions related to applying for this FOA should be addressed to
Question 2: Do you have an anticipated date when the Grant application submittal will be?
Answer 2: As per the FOA, which can be found here:, final applications will be due on 4/30/2014.
Question 3: Is there a resource I can speak with concerning the process in general,(not grant specific info)? This will be our initial application.
Answer 3: Specific questions related to applying for this FOA should be submitted to  The FOA itself provides very detailed application instructions. 
Question 4: Do the prototypes need to be full scale hardware demos?
Answer 4: The entrance requirement of TRL 4 or 5 does not require a full-size prototype.  According to the TRL 5 definition, "The basic technological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so it can be tested in a simulated environment.  Examples include 'high fidelity' laboratory integration of components."

For PV Topic Area 2, the entrance requirement of TRL 6 implies that a full-sized prototype has been fabricated in a "pilot line" environment. According to the definition of TRL 6, "Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL-5, is tested in a relevant environment.  This represents a major step up in a technology's demonstrated readiness.  Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in simulated operational environment. "  Much of the technological risk of product or process is expected to have been retired to meet the TRL 6 entrance requirement.
Question 5: Does the entrance TRL have to be exactly as specified in the table in the FOA, or could it be higher, provided that the TRL advances at least two levels during the course of the project?
Answer 5: For applications to Topic Areas 1 and 2, the entrance TRL must be as stated in the table.
For applications to Topic Areas 3 and 4 , the starting TRL level may be higher than the minimum specified in the FOA.
Question 6: What if the idea is the development of a new PV cell process where the specific tools are at the appropriate TRL levels but the full process has not been fully developed or demonstrated. How would one select the correct TRL?
Answer 6: The PV cell process would need to meet the appropriate TRL level as that development is the objective of the project.
Question 7: Are concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technologies appropriate for this funding opportunity?
Answer 7: Yes.  CPV is considered a subset of PV technology and is appropriate for Topic 1 and Topic 2.
Question 8: Will manufacturing for Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) be considered?
Answer 8: Yes. BIPV is considered a subset of PV technology and is appropriate for Topic 1 and Topic 2.
Question 9: Are PV balance of systems products and process appropriate for this funding opportunity?
Answer 9: Yes. PV balance of systems concepts are appropriate for this funding opportunity, except for power electronics components, an area covered by other SunShot funding opportunities. 
Question 10: Is the FOA not looking at actual PV technology improvement (e.g. efficiency gains, etc.), but rather only on improvement (aka cost reduction) of the manufacturing process?
Answer 10: This funding opportunity is looking to reduce the manufacturing cost of PV technology.  Improvements in technology such as efficiency that are manufacturable can reduce the overall cost of PV and are appropriate.
Question 11: Would you consider a proposal to build smaller production potential, even if the company's intentions are to ramp to scale in a different country?
Answer 11: The potential for a project to contribute to  U.S. Manufacturing is an important criterion for judging full proposals.  Specifically, the criterion (Section V.A.2) includes:
- Degree to which the project will strengthen the competitiveness of domestic solar manufacturing and translate into increased long-term solar and supply chain manufacturing and employment in the United States.
- Degree of commitment to support U.S. manufacturing as demonstrated in the U.S. Manufacturing Plan (Section IV.D.12).
- Extent to which the proposed commitment is supported by a realistic, factually supported, financially sound implementation approach.
Question 12: If a technology is applicable to both PV and CSP how should the concept paper(s) address this?
Answer 12: If a proposal overlaps two or more Topic Areas, submit the concept paper under the predominant or most applicable Topic Area, with the possible relevance to other Topic Areas identified in the narrative. 
Question 13: 10 CFR 600 is difficult to implement for a small business. Are there special conditions for a small business to negotiate a Technology Investment Agreement?
Answer 13: All awards made under this Funding Opportunity Announcement are subject to the applicable requirements set forth by the 10 CFR 600.
Question 14: How do we have to demonstrate that we are able to meet the 50% cost share requirement?
Answer 14: All applications must meet the minimum cost share requirements. Applicants certify that the information presented in the application is accurate.  It is at the Contracting Officer's discretion to request supporting documentation to verify that an applicant is able to meet the required cost share.
Question 15: Will equipment purchased as part of a SolarMat2 project to develop and set up a manufacturing line be owned by the company at the end of the project? If a company specifically allocates its cost share to purchase the equipment necessary for its SolarMat2 project, will that make a difference in any encumbrances on the equipment at the end of the project?
Answer 15: Title to equipment purchased under an award vests in the recipient subject to the conditions specified in the administrative requirements, 10 CFR Part 600.  
Question 16: Are CSP balance of systems concepts appropriate for this funding opportunity?
Answer 16:


For Topic Area 3, this FOA is addressing system-wide manufacturing, assembly, installation and commissioning of CSP systems.

For Topic Area 4, this FOA is specifically targeting BOS components which will enable the integration of advanced CSP systems such as those which operate at higher temperatures than state of the art.

Question 17: According to the webinar under CSP Topic Area 3, applications should be enter at TRL 4 and exit at TRL 6. Will applications be accepted if the entrance TRL is lower than 4 (e.g. 3) as long as the exit TRL is at least #6?
Answer 17:
This FOA is intended for Topic Areas 3 applications to enter at least TRL 4 and exit at TRL 6 or better.
Question 18: It is clear that a primary goal of this FOA is reduction in manufacturing costs. However, what is less clear is the extent to which the cost reduction value proposition will be evaluated opposite other complimentary ones. Specifically, the guidance includes in the “Topics of interest” things like “increase in module output improvements” and “improvement of an existing manufacturing process or product”, but it is not clear whether manufacturing cost reduction must be also achieved concurrently. If a proposal seeks to substantially improve performance while maintaining the same manufacturing cost would that be as attractive a value proposition as one which reduces cost?
Answer 18: As stated in the FOA Summary, “This funding opportunity intends to spur photovoltaic and concentrating solar power manufacturing and supply chain companies in the U.S. by aiding the development of innovative cost reducing and/or efficiency increasing technology into useable manufacturing equipment and processes.”  Innovations that reduce the metrics of $/W or system LCOE are appropriate for this funding opportunity as are innovations that reduce the $/unit metric.
Question 19: Would a federally recognized Indian Tribe be an eligible applicant for this funding?
Answer 19: As per Section III.A.2 of the FOA, “State, local, and tribal government entities are eligible to apply for funding as a Prime Recipient or Subrecipient.”
Question 20: Does the TRL apply to the manufacturing process or equipment or does it have to apply to the product being manufactured?
Answer 20: The least technically mature aspect of the technology (product, process, equipment, etc.) must meet the Technical Readiness Level (TRL) entrance requirement for a Topic Area.
Question 21: Will funding be paid only when certain milestones are met? I would like to understand if there is a chance that one could start a project under this award and not get any funding. Say the project is approved for 2 years at $2M. Will there be just one payout a year of $1M or will it be divided throughout the year?
Answer 21: As per Section I.B. of the FOA, “reimbursement of the Federal share of incurred project costs will be contingent on recipients meeting the technical or commercial milestones and meeting the non-Federal cost share.”  DOE funding will not reimbursed if milestones are not met.  The timing of milestones and the associated reimbursements will be negotiated as appropriate to the scope of work.
Question 22: When are the concept papers due?
Answer 22: Mandatory concept papers are due by 5:00pm eastern time on March 12, 2014.
Question 23: Is it permissible for US entities to have a foreign subrecipient/partner/subcontractor?
Answer 23: As per FOA Section III.A.3, “a foreign entity may receive funding as a Subrecipient.”
Question 24: We are foreign owned company with a US subsidiary, are we eligible to apply for this FOA?
Answer 24: Yes, please review Section III, “Eligibility Information,” for more details.
Question 25: We are looking for funds to start up a new assembly line in the US, do we qualify for this FOA?
Answer 25: As per the FOA, “this funding opportunity intends to spur photovoltaic and concentrating solar power manufacturing and supply chain companies in the U.S. by aiding the development of innovative cost reducing and/or efficiency increasing technology into usable manufacturing equipment and processes.  Awardees are expected to move technology from the development to pilot stages of manufacturing or construction, or from pilot to full-scale manufacturing or construction within one to four years and demonstrate their proposed cost reductions.”   Additionally it is stated in the FOA that “proposals intended for replication of existing manufacturing technology to scale up existing capacity” are specifically not of interest.
Question 26: Do improvements in tracker design and manufacturing fit into the interests of the program?
Answer 26: Improvements in tracker design and manufacturing is appropriate for this FOA (and is not considered to be part of power electronics).
Question 27: We have developed a ‘smart combiner box’ that boosts the DC voltage and controls PV module strings in a granular fashion. Is this a project within the scope of SolarMat2?
Answer 27: A ‘smart combiner box’ that boosts DC voltage and controls PV module strings is considered to be “power electronics” and is not appropriate for this FOA.
Question 28: Is it necessary to submit an abstract when submitting a concept paper? The FOA document shows the abstract as part of the full application only. But the EERE portal requires an abstract to be submitted before the concept paper is submitted.
Answer 28: The abstract field in Exchange is not required to be filled out for your concept paper submission.  You may choose to include a summary paragraph in this field if you wish or just a note to "see attached."
Question 29: Should we submit our concept paper with a control number and if so where do we get a control number? The FOA states we will receive the control number after the concept paper submission, but it also says we need to include a control number with the concept paper.
Answer 29: The control number will be assigned once you once you fill out the first screen of the application process in Exchange and hit the “Create Concept Paper” button.
Question 30: We are presently applying for a grant under SOLARMAT2 funding opportunity and we need assistance in completing the application. We have already uploaded the Concept Paper but need assistance in preparing and uploading the responses for the following TRL forms. Please call me. We also need assistance in defining the team members.
Answer 30: EERE representatives are not permitted to contact potential applicants directly to discuss the application process as this may give an unfair advantage to some applicants.  Specific questions regarding this FOA may be submitted to and will be answered on the Q&A page of EERE Exchange.
Question 31: The FOA implies that the Project Team qualifications section of the concept paper is part of the 2-page Addendum section. Is this a correct interpretation?
Answer 31: As per Section IV.C.1, the team qualifications should be part of the addendum to the concept paper.
Question 32: When applying as a “Domestic Entity,” is there a requirement that all the constituent PIs need to be US citizens or permanent residents? The reason I am asking this is because the team we have assembled consists of a mix of citizens and legal non-citizens.
Answer 32: There is no requirement that the key personnel be US citizens.
Question 33: Will public institutions be required to meet the 50% cost share requirement?
Answer 33: Yes, at this time all applicants to the FOA must be able to meet the 50% cost share requirement.
Question 34: Is the webinar still scheduled for this Wednesday?
Answer 34:

The optional Second Informational Webinar is scheduled for this Wednesday, March 26 at 12:00pm ET. 

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Question 35: 1) Are these the only documents we need to fill out for the full application due on April 30th 2014? a.) SF-424 b.) EERE-159 c.) Summary Slide Template d.) SF-LLL 2) Is this pre-application or application for the SF-424 3) 5 a (On the SF 424 form) Do I have a federal entity identifier. If so, where can I find it? 4) Item number 10 (On the SF 424 form) Name of Federal Agency is Department of Energy is that correct? 5) Item number 11 and 12 (On the SF 424 form) repeat themselves should I put in the same answers for both? 6) Item number 15 (On the SF 424 form) How descriptive do we need to be? Can we use our abstract for this portion? 7) Item number 19 (On the SF 424 form) Is this subject to review by the state? 8) Lastly, where do we submit these applications?
Answer 35:
  1. The required application documents are listed in Section IV.D. of the FOA.
  2. Required Concept Papers were due on March 12, 2014.
  3. This section may be left blank.
  4. This FOA is being presented by the Department of Energy. 
  5. The CFDA number and the FOA number are different.  Please see the cover page of the FOA where both are included.
  6. This space is for your project title.  Please be as descriptive as you think is appropriate for a title.
  7. Please review
  8. Full instructions for proposal submission are included in the text of the FOA.
Question 36: On the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities Application form SF-LLL... 1. On Question 8 Where can we find the Federal Action Number? 2. On Question 10a Is the name of the lobbying registrant the same as the reporting entity in question 4? 3. On Question 10B are the individual names required if it is a Inc?
Answer 36:
  1. The Federal Action Number may be left blank. 
  2. The lobbying registrant is the registered lobbyist who lobbies on behalf of your organization. 
  3. If a lobbying group performs activities on behalf of your organization, you may include the name of the group.
Question 37: My concept paper was “Discouraged” followed by “To be determined” and a link to “Edit a Full Application for this FOA”. I understand what discouraged means but what does “To be determined” mean?
Answer 37:

Please double check your status in Exchange as all applicants who submitted Concept Papers have been encouraged or discouraged at this time. 

As per the FOA, an applicant who receives a “discouraged” notification may still submit a Full Application. EERE will review all compliant and responsive Full Applications. However, by discouraging the submission of a Full Application, EERE intends to convey its lack of programmatic interest in the proposed project in an effort to save the Applicant the time and expense of preparing an application that is unlikely to be selected for award negotiations.

Question 38: How is cost share calculated? If we pay $6M and the government pays $3M, is the cost share defined as 66% or 33%?
Answer 38: Please see Appendix B of the FOA.
Question 39: We received an “encouraged” response to our Concept Paper submitted pursuant to DE-EE-FOA0001018 (SolarMat II). Typically, the Concept Paper strengths and weaknesses are summarized in the “View” from the “My Submissions” page. However, these are not displayed when I navigate to the page/section these are contained. Are the comments available?
Answer 39: If the reviewers provided strengths and weaknesses in their reviews, they are now visible under the “Overall Summary Comments” for your Concept Paper in Exchange.  If you cannot view the strengths and weaknesses that means that the reviewers did not provide them.
Question 40: SolarMat2 Administrator, we are interested in submitting an application under the SolarMat2 program. One quick question: if we won the award, would our company be obligated to manufacture in the United States beyond what was proposed in the application. For example, if we propose to build 15MW of capacity in the US, would there be any reason why we couldn’t do our next 15MW overseas?
Answer 40:

The U.S. Manufacturing Plan submitted with the application would be the limit of the U.S. manufacturing commitment for any award resulting from the application.    However, additional U.S. manufacturing requirements may apply to an invention made under the award (i.e., “subject invention”) for which the awardee retains title. 

All awardees must agree to 35 U.S.C. 204, Preference for United States Industry, under which each awardee must require their exclusive licensees to substantially manufacture the following products in the United States for any use or sale in the United States: (1) articles embodying subject inventions, and (2) articles produced through the use of subject inventions. This requirement does not apply to articles that are manufactured for use or sale overseas.

DOE has issued a class waiver that applies to this FOA.  Under this class waiver, domestic large businesses may elect title to their subject inventions similar to the right provided to the domestic small businesses, education institutions, and nonprofits, by law.  In order to avail itself of the class waiver, a domestic large business must agree to substantially manufacture products embodying or produced through the use of a subject invention in the U.S. unless DOE agrees that commitments proposed in the U.S. Manufacturing Plan is sufficient.    

Question 41: Are Project Teams allowed to contribute “in-kind” cost share?
Answer 41: Yes, as per the FOA, “Project Teams may provide cost share in the form of cash or in-kind contributions. Cash contributions may be provided by the Prime Recipient or Subrecipients. Allowable in-kind contributions include, but are not limited to: personnel costs, indirect costs, facilities and administrative costs, rental value of buildings or equipment, and the value of a service, other resource, or third party in-kind contribution.”
Question 42: Are Project Teams allowed to utilize IR&D funds for cost share?
Answer 42: Please refer to FAR 31.205.18.
Question 43: Is there a specific tool or procedure that DOE requires for economic analysis that leads to a estimation of levelized cost of energy (LCOE)? This would be for the purpose of validating a Go/No-go milestone.
Answer 43:

The methodology of calculating LCOE is documented in the Solar Advisor Model (SAM) and based on published NREL material on calculating LCOE for renewable energy systems:

While this methodology is generally accepted for the type of systems and analysis that SAM performs, it does not address more complex financial considerations for manufacturing equipment capital costs, production volumes, etc.
In any case, the applicant is expected to provide justification for the methodology and the assumptions used for the calculation in estimating LCOE.  There is not a specific tool or procedure that DOE requires for economic analysis that leads to a estimation of LCOE.

Question 44: As a for-profit large business, in order for us to retain IP rights to subject inventions, we must qualify for a waiver. The criteria appears to be that we must “substantially manufacture” the products embodying the subject invention in the U.S. What are the objective criteria for “substantially manufacture” and how do we demonstrate this? How can we gauge the likelihood that we will qualify for the waiver? Also, what is the scope of the IP rights? Does it apply to all the underlying IP or strictly what we deem to be “new” and what the grant $ funded?
Answer 44: A for-profit large business must qualify for a patent waiver to retain title to its subject inventions.  DOE has issued a class waiver that applies to this FOA.  Under the class waiver, a large business must agree to substantially manufacture products embodying or produced through the use of a waived subject invention in the U.S. unless DOE agrees that the commitments proposed in the U.S. Manufacturing Plan is sufficient.  Therefore the “substantially manufacture” only applies if the large business wants to avail itself of the class waiver and DOE does not consider the U.S. Manufacturing Plan sufficient.  “Substantially” is not a defined term.  If a recipient is not comfortable with that term and its U.S. Manufacturing Plan is not sufficient, then the recipient may request an advance patent waiver or identified patent waiver in which the recipient and DOE can negotiate language regarding U.S. manufacturing or benefit to U.S. economy that is acceptable to both the recipient and DOE. 
Question 45: Even if we do qualify for the waiver and retain ownership, it appears that the government gets a worldwide, paid-up license to the subject invention, and this license extends to contractors working on behalf of the government. Is this correct?
Answer 45: Yes.  The Government retains a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to practice or have practiced for or on behalf of the United States any and all subject inventions (i.e., inventions made under an award).  The licenses extends to contractors doing work on behalf of the Government. 
Question 46: Government retains “march-in” rights, so if we aren’t satisfying the aforementioned U.S. production requirements or if we don’t achieve practical application of the invention “within a reasonable time” then the government can grant a third-party a license to this right. Can you be more specific about the how these march-in rights would be triggered?
Answer 46:  Since the creation of march-in rights in 1980, the Department of Energy has never exercised its march-in rights to any subject invention.  However, the Department’s history of not exercising march-in rights has no impact on the Department’s ability and willingness to exercise march-in rights if the Department determines that conditions exist that make march-in rights necessary.  Specifically, the Department may exercise its march-in rights if it determines that such action is necessary under any of the four following conditions:
  1. The owner or licensee has not taken or is not expected to take effective steps to achieve practical application of the invention within a reasonable time;
  2. The owner or licensee has not taken action to alleviate health or safety needs in a reasonably satisfied manner;
  3. The owner has not met public use requirements specified by Federal statutes in a reasonably satisfied manner; or
  4. The U.S. preference provision of 35 U.S.C. 203 has not been met.
Any determination that march-in rights are warranted must follow a fact-finding process in which the contractor has certain rights to present evidence and witnesses, confront witnesses and appear with counsel (see 37 CFR § 401.6) and appeal any adverse decision (see 35 USC § 203(b)).
Question 47: What is the meaning on page 36 of the FOA of the term “multi-organization project”? Does this mean any project that includes subcontractors, even if there is only a single PI for the entire project, or does it only refer to projects with multiple PIs? Also, much of the information requested in this section is duplicative of what is requested under the Project Management section, described on page 32 of the FOA. What is the intended difference between these sections?
Answer 47: A multi-organization project is a project that includes subrecipients who are completing substantive work on the project, not vendors who provide an off the shelf good or service.  For multi-organization projects that have only one PI but multiple subrecipients, this section asks you to go into detail about how the subrecipients will be managed and by whom.  The Proejct Management section is more focused on how the Applicant would ensure that work is completed as proposed.
Question 48: Can you clarify the level of detail required in the Manufacturing Plan? Is there a place where we can find an example of a Manufacturing Plan?
Answer 48: As the contribution to U.S. Manufacturing is a merit review criterion weighted at 30% for this FOA, the Manufacturing Plan should provide sufficient detail to demonstrate the Applicant's commitment to this goal. There is not an example Manufacturing Plan being provided for this FOA.
Question 49: On Page 29 of the FOA, in the section describing the required information for the Market Transformation/Commercialization Plan, the FOA requests a description of the target market, competitors, etc. for the “proposed technology”. In our case, our “proposed technology” under this SolarMat FOA is a new manufacturing tool and process that we intend to deploy in our own domestic manufacturing facility. When the FOA asks for target market, competitors, etc. for the “proposed technology”, are you requesting the target market for the tool we are developing under SolarMat, or for the product that will be made with this tool? Similarly, when this section asks for “Identification of a product development plan”, are you seeking the plan to develop this tool, or the plan to develop the product that is made with this tool?
Answer 49: In the case where the proposed work develops a technology that is a material, design, tool used for a process, or a process that is incorporated into a product that is offered commercially, the Market Transformation/Commercialization Plan should address the final, commercially offered product.  The Product Development plan addresses the timeline, financing, product marketing, legal/regulatory considerations, etc. required to bring the product incorporating the technology to market.
Question 50: We are considering changing the partner for this proposal from an industrial perspective. Is there any restriction on changing the parties involved with the Concept paper prior to submission?
Answer 50: There is not a restriction on changing partners prior to full application submission. 
Question 51: What is the page limit and content requirements for the US Manufacturing Plan? Where should the “US Manufacturing Plan” be uploaded and how long should this description be?
Answer 51:

The US Manufacturing Plan is a required document and therefore must be uploaded as a separate file from the Technical Volume. There is no page limit for the US Manufacturing Plan. Please see Q&A 48 on the FAQ page for this FOA for more information.

Question 52: The FOA states that the Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications is August 1, 2014, and that the Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations is September 4, 2014. Does DOE expect that Award Negotiations will start on Sept. 4th, or that Award negotiations will be finished by Sept. 4th?
Answer 52:

DOE expects to negotiate awards between August 1 and the end of September with project start dates in October and November.

Question 53: For our Full Application, we are proposing a 36 month work plan. This value was entered into the “Proposed Period of Performance”, yet the “Funds and Costs” form in Exchange only displays fields for two phases. Is this configurable or is it recommended we simply split the proposed costs by the available input fields?
Answer 53: If you are not able to add a third phase in Exchange, please just split the total project cost into two phases.  While the project management team prefers 12 month budget periods, this can be adjusted during negotiations.
Question 54: Is there a suggested format for the Replies to Reviewer Comment?
Answer 54: Please refer to Section IV.F of the FOA.