KNOXVILLE — Tennessee Solar Institute (TSI) today announced it is seeking grant applications for $14.5 million in incentives for solar innovation projects that encourage the development of Tennessee’s solar industry. The Solar Innovation Grant Program is the second grant opportunity available through the $23.5 million Solar Opportunity Fund. Designed to speed the deployment of renewable energy resources, the Solar Opportunity Fund is part of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Volunteer State Solar Initiative, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“The Solar Innovation Grants will enable Tennessee companies to assume a leadership role in the burgeoning solar industry,” said Matt Kisber, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “Providing businesses operating within the solar value chain with the resources needed to advance technologies and develop new markets will ultimately create new jobs for the state and spur additional investments.”
Solar Innovation grants are available to qualifying Tennessee solar industry firms seeking financial assistance to help strengthen their offerings to the solar industry as well as improve energy efficiency in their place of operations.
“The purpose of the Solar Innovation Grant Program is to advance Tennessee’s competitive advantage in the solar industry,” said John Sanseverino, director of programs for Tennessee Solar Institute. “Reducing energy usage and increasing energy efficiency in the workplace is also a major emphasis of the program.”
Eligible applicants include qualified for-profit firms, working in or seeking to expand business in the solar industry in Tennessee. To apply, a business must submit a proposal defining how grant funds will be used to advance the solar industry through various process improvements and/or training opportunities. TSI will accept proposals for grant funding in the following categories:
- Technical Assistance – Applicants will obtain tools and resources needed to implement sustainable clean energy programs in their place of operation.
- Workforce Development – Applicants will participate in workforce development projects that include education and training programs related to the manufacturing, sale, installation and maintenance of solar systems and equipment.
- Renewable Energy Products Integration – Applicants will incorporate renewable energy products in their place of operation with the intent of reducing green house gases and energy consumption. These improvements also demonstrate commercially-available renewable energy technologies to potential customers.
- Process Improvements – Applicants will integrate manufacturing process improvements that increase overall efficiency and productivity.
- Technology Improvements – Applicants will incorporate changes in manufacturing operations by adding new technologies and methods that speed the deployment of products and create opportunities for entry into new markets.
- Facilities and Equipment Improvements – Applicants will reduce energy consumption through traditional energy efficiency retrofits by upgrading facilities and installing energy-efficient equipment.
Applicants with approved proposals may be awarded up to $500,000 in grant funds, depending on project category. Detailed information and application materials for the Solar Innovation Grant Program are available on the TSI website http://solar.tennessee.edu. Applications for the Solar Innovation grant must be received by the Tennessee Solar Institute no later than September 24, 2010.
Tennessee Solar Institute is part of the Volunteer State Solar Initiative, a comprehensive solar energy and economic development program focusing on job creation, education, renewable power production and technology commercialization. This initiative has been established using $62.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding received by the Department of Economic and Community Development.
About Tennessee Solar Institute
Tennessee Solar Institute is a center of excellence between the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory that brings together scientists, engineers and technical experts with business leaders and policymakers to help speed the deployment of solar photovoltaic technology. Its mission is to advance the understanding of solar innovation and to inspire new ideas that speed the deployment and implementation of solar-based technology in Tennessee.
For more information, visit http://solar.tennessee.edu.