The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories, co-leaders of the Heliostat Consortium, have announced seven awardees from a request for proposals (RFP) aimed at achieving DOE’s goals for heliostat cost reduction, sustained multifaceted innovation, and improved solar field performance.

Heliostats are mirrors that track the sun in order to reflect highly concentrated sunlight to a receiver. Projects from this solicitation, which will be implemented over the next 1–3 years, will focus on lowering the cost of heliostats and heliostat technologies and creating new market opportunities for the heliostat industry.

Low-cost heliostats are thought to offer significant renewable energy potential. They enable 5 cents per kWh, concentrating solar-thermal power with energy storage capacity of 12 or more hours, which would help to support a fully decarbonised electricity grid. It is believed that the projects that result from this RFP would significantly enhance the country’s ability to hit 2050 targets for energy sector decarbonisation.

“These projects address a broad range of needs in the heliostat and concentrating solar power community,” said Guangdong Zhu, Heliostat Consortium (HelioCon) executive director and NREL senior researcher and group manager of thermal energy systems. “They range from design and manufacturing, automation, wireless controls, and education and outreach that will create course materials for students, graduate students, and even people already working in the heliostat industry.”