UCF receives Energy Department grant to advance solar energy research

The University of Central Florida is advancing its research into solar energy with new funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the school announced last week.

The $7 million grant from DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office will support projects in solar energy research and power grid security, which aim to advance usage of sustainable energy, and help support the university’s effort to prioritize energy research.

“We are committed to advancing the rapid transition to a sustainable energy economy and collaborating with key partners,” James Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center at UCF said in a press release.

The funding will be distributed across four UCF projects, the university said. Three focus on advancing solar energy technologies, including the development fo double-sided solar panels that can generate more power. UCF is also researching solar panels that generate electricity from light and thermal energy and panels with extended life spans. The fourth project aims to help defend the nation’s power grid from cyberattacks by developing new models and algorithms that will make physical power grid more secure and resilient.

UCF has received 14 other awards from the DOE since 2011 to pursue solar research and development, according to the university, and has become a leader in solar research.

“These awards amplify UCF’s national leadership in solar energy research,” Fenton said.

UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center also received a contract from DOE which began at the beginning of 2020 to lead a team that will monitor the performance of floating solar systems around the nation and compare them to their land-based counterparts over the next two years, according to the university.