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: Systems that produce electrical power with something other than a heat engine (for instance, a fuel cell) may not require high temperature to achieve high efficiency. Will the requirement on page 11 for temperature ≥ 650 C be strictly enforced, or will novel high-efficiency, low-temperature systems be considered?
Answer 1: As stated in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, "All Applicants must demonstrate a credible strategy whereby the TCES system will supply energy at a temperature and a ramp rate that is consistent with the requirements of one of the power cycles defined in Table 2."  The power cycles defined in Table 2 are all based upon heat engines, and only those thermochemical energy storage systems designed to interface with one of the heat engine power cycles defined in Table 2 will be considered.

The output temperature from the thermochemical energy storage must be ≥650 C.  Applications that do not meet this requirement will be scored in a manner that reflects the failure to meet this technical target given in the FOA.

Question 2: A. The FOA instructions state the page limit for the Technology Description in the Concept Paper (p39) is four pages, but the application on the EERE website states three pages (on the Upload and Submit tab). Which is correct? B. A cover page is requested in the FOA instructions (page 39) but the online application does not have an area to upload a cover page. Are the questions within the application form considered the “cover page”? I noticed the application seems to include the same items requested in the cover page instructions.
Answer 2:

A. The Concept Paper is limited to five (5) pages total including a cover page and a four (4) page technology description.  This has been corrected in Exchange to read, “Concept Paper - limited to five (5) pages. The page limitation for Concept Papers includes all charts, graphs, maps, photographs, references, and a cover page.”

B. The cover page should be included in uploaded concept paper document.

Question 3: Section I.C.9. On-Sun Testing states “TCES projects that successfully reach the final phase of the award will be expected to culminate in an on-sun test of the solar thermochemical reactor of at least 25kWt for those TCES systems proposed to integrate with dish collectors or at least 100kWt for TCES systems proposed to integrate will [sic] all other forms of CSP technology.” Does this requirement apply only to Topic 1 awardees or to all awardees?
Answer 3: Wherever feasible, Topic 2 (Seedling) applications should seek to culminate in an on-sun test of the technology.  If on-sun testing is not feasible, seedling applications should culminate in a test of the technology that emulates the inputs of an on-sun test.  Seedling applicants should provide a brief discussion describing how the performance values for the innovation would change in an on-sun test setting.  The merits of the application will be reviewed based upon the objectives of the FOA.
Question 4: Page 11 of the FOA states that proposed TCES systems must operate at ≥ 650C. Page 13 states that the TCES system will supply energy at a temperature that is consistent with the requirements of one of the power cycles defined in Table 2. Table 2 lists supercritical steam in a temperature range of 540-620C. If the envisioned TCES system generates steam directly during discharge, can the steam discharge temperature (and the TCES operating temperature) be in the range of the supercritical steam cycle (540-620C)?
Answer 4:

As stated on page 13 of the FOA (emphasis added), "All Applicants must demonstrate a credible strategy whereby the TCES system will supply energy at a temperature and a ramp rate that is consistent with the requirements of one of the power cycles defined in Table 2."  Furthermore, as stated on page 19 of the FOA, "Each application must also include a calculation of the anticipated first law and second law efficiencies for the entire subsystem…"  which, as indicated on page 16 of the FOA includes "exergy transfer from heat (E_heat), work (E_work), and substances (E_sub)".  The merits of the application will be reviewed based upon the objectives of the FOA.

Question 5: For the concept paper, the FOA requires an “Anticipated Project Budget (Federal and Cost Share).” Will the DOE require applicants to adhere to this anticipated project budget in the full proposal, or is the DOE simply expecting an estimate based on the amount of effort put into the concept paper, realizing that the budget may change as a more accurate estimate of the work involved is developed for the full proposal?
Answer 5: As stated in the table under "Concept Paper Content Requirements" on page 39 of the FOA: "Applicants are required to include a Cover Page with their Concept Paper containing: Anticipated Project Budget (Federal and Cost Share)". Applicants are expected to provide as accurate of an estimated anticipated budget as is practical but will have the opportunity to refine their budgets prior to submission of full proposals.
Question 6: ABC Inc. is planning on submitting a concept paper to DE-FOA-0000805 and would like to know if we will be discouraged from submitting a full proposal if we do not name our cost sharing partner in the concept paper, except as a generic at this point?
Answer 6: Concept papers will be evaluated for compliance per the criteria given in Section V.A.1.a of the FOA and for content per the criteria given in Section V.A.2.a. of the FOA.  Full Applications are required to include "signed letters of cost share commitment" as stated in the Full Application Content Requirements table on page 41 of the FOA.  Full applications that do not disclose project partners or demonstrate the ability to meet the cost share requirements may be found non-compliant per section V.A.1.b of the FOA.
Question 7: There are a host of different ways to interpret the program metric of "ratio of change of Gibbs Free Energy to change in Enthlpay (DG/DH) of 1". Can additional guidance describing the source/derivation/end goal of this metric be provided?
Answer 7:

As stated on page 12 of the FOA (emphasis added) "An ideal chemical reaction would have the following characteristics: 1) a ratio of change in Gibbs Free Energy  to change in Enthalpy (DG/DH) of 1". Page 16 of the FOA states "…eq. 3 defines the Gibbs free energy for the substance." wherein eq. 3 is presented as "Esub = (H - H0) - T0(S - S0)". As stated on page 15 of the FOA "Functions for entropy (S) [14] and Gibbs free energy (G) are defined by the second law and can be used to calculate exergy, or the maximum (reversible) amount of available energy to do work in a given environment [15, 16, 17]. Pages 16-17 of the FOA further state "To ensure maximum energy utilization, deviations from theoretical exergy values due to irreversible processes must be evaluated. Specifically, exergy destruction (Eloss) resulting from entropy creation should be determined when calculating the exergetic efficiency (hE) of a process…"


Applicants are directed to literature referenced in the FOA (as shown below) for further explanation of the subject.


[14] Entropy is a thermodynamic variable which reflects the disorder of a system. Entropy increases over time and is maximized for a system in equilibrium. In theory, entropy is zero for reversible processes; however, in practice entropy always increases since natural processes are irreversible.


[15] Sato, N.  “Chemical Energy and Exergy: An Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics for Engineers.” Elsevier, 2004 (New York).


[16] Dunbar, W. R., Lior, N., Gaggioli, R. A., 1992. The Composite Equations of Energy and Exergy, Journal of Energy Resources Technology. 114: 75 – 83.


[17] Bejan, A., 2002.  Fundamentals of Exergy Analysis, Entropy Generation Minimization, and the Generation of Flow Architecture, International Journal of Energy Research. 26: 545 – 565.


Each application will be reviewed based upon its merits for meeting the objectives of the FOA.

Question 8: Please give us an estimate of when we will be informed if we will be invited to submit a full proposal?
Answer 8:

DOE anticipates releasing feedback on concept papers for FOA DE-FOA-0000805 CSP ELEMENTS by no later than close of business on 6/10/2013.

Question 9: In the solicitation for DE-FOA-00008050 is say the "proposal overview" template can be found on the EERE exchange website. The proposal overview is to be included as part of the technical volume and I am not able to find the proposal overview template anywhere. Can you please post a link to it?
Answer 9: Please the CSP_ELEMENTS Proposal Overview Template listed under the FOA Documents.
Question 10: If possible, could you please let us know how many concept papers were submitted and how many full proposals were invited?
Answer 10: DOE does not release information regarding the number of applicants to a Funding Opportunity Announcement unless it is requested via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process. 
Question 11: Regarding Topic 1 proposals to culminate in on-sun testing the FOA states: - Demonstration is defined as the construction of a prototype or pilot of the proposed system at a scale larger than 500kWht (pg. 11). - Demonstration and commercial application is defined as the construction of a prototype or pilot of the proposed system at a scale larger than 500kW (pg. 33) Do you mean 500 kWht of energy stored or 500 kW of power? If the latter, I assume you mean thermal, not electrical, correct?
Answer 11: The requirement is 500 kWht.
Question 12: On pg. 25, the FOA states: TCES projects that successfully reach the final phase of the award will be expected to culminate in an on-sun test of the solar thermochemical reactor of at least 25kWt for those TCES systems proposed to integrate with dish collectors or at least 100kWt for TCES systems proposed to integrate will [sic] all other forms of CSP technology. It is also stated on pg. 57, under Baseline, metrics, and deliverables: Since “demonstration” has been defined as 500 kW (or kWh), this statement on pg. 57 seems to suggest that Topic 1 proposals must generate 500 kW (or store 500 kWh). However, the statement on pg. 25 sets a lower bar. So, would it be correct to say that: a. The statement on pg. 25 is correct. b. The statement on pg. 57 should have said “on-sun test,” avoiding the word “demonstration” which carries a specific meaning. c. If a project chooses to meet the higher bar of 500 kW (or kWh), then it is considered a “demonstration.” d. If a project chooses to conduct a “demonstration,” then that portion of the project is subject to a 50% cost-share.
Answer 12: The posted claims a-d are all correct.
Question 13: Is it required that a proposed technology be a closed system, i.e. with heat being the only transfer across the subsystem boundary, or can it be an open system that meets the storage objectives of the FOA while reducing and modulating the flow of a secondary energy source (solar thermal being primary) to the power block?
Answer 13: The proposed technology does not have to be a closed system; however, as stated in section I.C.3 of the FOA "Process flow designs will be an important aspect in determining the most effective means of handling materials and energy flows associated with TCES. Systematic optimization of the flows using the appropriate design principles will be expected. The cost/benefit of energy recovery schemes should be closely analyzed with respect to first and second law efficiencies. Recycling of unreacted materials and recovery of waste heat will likely be important for optimizing efficiency."  Additionally, applications will only be evaluated based upon the needs and economics of the CSP system; what this means is that any additional benefits that do not contribute to the solar to electric conversion efficiency of the CSP system will not be considered when evaluating the ability of the system to meet the FOA targets.
Question 14: 1. What costs are included in the $15/kWh target? For instance, should the capital costs be levelized over 30 years or non-levelized? Are there rules of thumb that EERE would like to have used by all applicants? 2. No basis for the curve in Fig. 2 is given, and it would be highly likely that variations would exist for different configurations and chemical systems. Can EERE give examples of TCES systems that define the curve? How strictly will the criteria displayed be implemented? 3. Must Universities also supply 20% cost-share?
Answer 14:

1) The $15/kWht capital costs are not levelized over 30 years, although systems are targeted for a 30 year lifetime and so any material or equipment that will not last for that period of time and therefore requires replacement or regeneration should have those associated costs accounted for in the cost calculation.  From the FOA, Figure 4 provides a simplified system boundary for both a direct and an indirect TCES system.  Costs for any materials or equipment within this boundary should be included in the TCES system cost calculation." Functions describing the replacement and regeneration costs should also be included.

2) Figure 2 is meant to serve as a guiding principle to demonstrate that, in general, a system that has higher energy density can have a lower exergetic efficiency when compared to a system with a lower energy density and still be cost effective.  This represents a concept described later in the FOA as a techno-economic tradeoff. The $15/kWht cost target, combined with the need to couple to the power blocks given in Table 2 of the FOA, captures most of this curve quantitatively.

3) All applicants, including universities, must provide 20% cost share to be compliant under the CSP:ELEMENTS FOA.

Question 15: Is there a preferred term length for the phases proposed under this FOA, for example, 12 month phases versus 18 month phases?
Answer 15: Generally, DOE prefers phases of length ~12 months, but longer phases are acceptable where appropriate.
Question 16: Reference Section IV.E.d. on page 46 (Budget Information SF-424A), do the separate budgets for each year have to sync up with government fiscal years? If a budget period is only 5 months long, is that considered a Budget Year for purposes of SF-424A?
Answer 16:

No, budget periods do not need to line up with the government fiscal years.

While the exact length of budget periods is not restricted by the FOA, please keep in mind that adequate and realistic timeframes are important to the success of the project in passing go/no-go decision points.  For the purposes of the SF-424A, please enter the information based on budget periods for Sections A and B and enter the information based on year for Sections D and E.

Question 17: According to the FOA’s’ Project Management Plan (PMP): Instructions to Applicants’, The Project Management Plan (PMP) is an addendum to the Statement of Project Objectives (SOPO) that summarizes the proposed work to be completed in a tabular format, which is defined as the CSP_ELEMENTS PMP Excel Spreadsheet. However, within the Technical Volume, there is a Project Management Plan and the third bullet states a properly formatted PMP can be found on EERE Exchange. Is this the Excel spreadsheet? If not, what are the requirements for the 4 page PMP within the Technical Volume? What is to be uploaded in the Project Management Plan field in Upload and Submit tab? The excel spreadsheet? The PMP narrative file? Or both? In the Upload and Submission tab, it states the completed and signed other sources of funding disclosure form, however, the FOA does not state a signature is required. Is there a form we need to complete/sign? If so, where can it be obtained?
Answer 17:

The Project Management Plan Example is located on Exchange under “Required Application Documents” that may be used as a guide.  As stated in the FOA, the PMP should be included in the Technical Narrative.  Per the FOA, the PMP should not be uploaded as a separate document from the Technical Narrative.  In addition the Project Management Plan Instructions are located above the PMP Example listed among the Required Application Documents. 

While there is not a specific Other Sources of Funding Disclosure form, an Other Sources of Funding Disclosure document is required if the PI or Co-PI(s) are participating in on any other Federally funded projects, as noted on pages 47 and 48 of the FOA.  Please see the list of requested information required as part of the Other Sources of Funding Disclosure under section IV.E.ii.i of the FOA.

Question 18: I had a question about the FOA requirement for a waiver request for performance of work in the United States. On page 7, the call states “Prime recipients must submit any waiver requests in writing to the assigned DOE Contracting Officer.” Does the DOE Contracting Officer review the waiver request as part of the full application submission or does a waiver need to be submitted to the Contracting Officer prior to submitting the full application? If the waiver must be reviewed before final submission, who should the waiver be addressed to? As an FFRDC should we submit the waiver to our FFRDC Contracting Officer?
Answer 18: Waiver requests should be submitted as part of the application package for consideration during the merit review and will be directed to the appropriate Contracting Officer for consideration.