Solar Energy Innovators Program

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
Reference Code
How to Apply

Click on Apply at the bottom of the page.

ORISE is continuing normal program operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This opportunity will be offered as long as Host Institution is able to complete the onboarding process and ensure a meaningful experience to participants. We encourage you to apply and submit your application as soon as possible.  Updates to this opportunity will be provided on this page as needed.

Application Deadline
9/30/2021 11:59:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Solar Energy Innovators (SEI) Program supports early-stage research and development to improve the flexibility and performance of solar technologies that contribute to a reliable and resilient U.S. electric grid.  The program is designed to provide opportunities for students, post-graduates, and faculty to participate in a hands-on experience that enable selected applicants to conduct practical research on innovative solutions to the challenges faced by public utility commissions, utilities, and grid operators as the levels of solar energy, as well as other distributed energy resources (DERs), increase on the electrical gird.   

The applicant must identify a Host Institution and potential mentor at a public utilities commission (PUC), utility, or grid operators currently conducting research in an area related to the integration of solar energy onto the electricity gird.  DOE, EERE, ORAU, and ORISE do not match applicants with host institutions.  Host institutions may seek potential innovators that are eligible to apply to the program, but it is the potential Innovator, not the host institution or mentor, who submits the application and supporting materials for this opportunity.   Selected applicants, referred to as "Innovators" herein, will participate for up to two years at a host institution on one or more topics related to the integration of solar energy with the electric grid.

Host Institutions can be:

(a) An electric public utility commission,

(b) An electric utility operating in the US, or

(c) An electric grid operator in the US (including regional transmission organizations, independent system operators, and balancing authorities).

Host Institutions are expected to commit to providing a mentor for the Innovator, as well as workspace, equipment, and resources needed for the Innovator to conduct his or her research. For a list of electric public utility commissions, electric utilities, and energy service providers visit Potential Host Institutions.

If you have a question about whether your potential Host Institution is eligible, please send an email to

Participant Benefits

The initial appointment period is one year, and may be renewed for up to an additional year. Extension of the appointment will be subject to satisfactory progress toward completion of the project goals and availability of funds. Final decisions regarding the extension of the appointment for a second year will be made by the U.S. DOE, EERE, Solar Energy Technology Office (SETO) in consultation with the Host Institution.

Stipends will be based on appointment level and commensurate with qualifications:

  • Level 1: Participants with a Bachelor's degree will receive a stipend starting at $40,000.

  • Level 2: Participants with a Ph.D. or J.D. will receive a stipend starting at $70,000. Participants with a Master's degree will start at $55,000.

  • Level 3: The stipend amount will be based on the Level 2 rate plus a factor for years of relevant experience after the receipt of the degree.

Participants will be eligible to receive an allowance of up to $10,000 for education and/or scientific activities, health insurance supplement, and possible relocation travel up to $5,000.

The appointment is full-time and cannot be supplemented with additional salary from the Host Institution.

Nature of Appointment

The EERE SEI Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO).  The program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). During the appointment, the Innovator will be considered an EERE SEI Innovator and will not enter into an employee/employer relationship with ORISE, ORAU, DOE, the Host Institution, or any other office or agency.

For more information about SETO, visit

  • Eligible applicants include recent Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate graduates, as well as applicants with technical or research post-degree experience in a field related to the application of solar integration.

  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) at the time of application. Evidence of U.S. citizenship must be submitted to ORISE at the time the appointment is accepted.

  • Be at least 18 years old by the time the appointment begins.

  • Meet one of the following conditions: 

    • Level 1: Have earned an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree in the past three years in science, technology, mathematics, engineering, public policy, business, law or other field relevant to the position.

    • Level 2: Have earned a graduate degree (Doctorate or Master’s) in the past three years in science, technology, mathematics, engineering, public policy, business, law or other field relevant to the position.

    • Level 3: Have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in science, technology, mathematics, engineering, public policy, business, law or other field relevant to the position. Applicant must have post-degree experience in a technical or research position in a field related to energy innovation.

Application and Selection Process

The application deadline is September 30, 2021, at 11:59:00 PM Eastern Time Zone.

Applications are accepted quarterly and new postings will be available each quarter with application deadlines of September 30, December 31, March 31, and June 30 deadlines  This opportunity is only for the September 30, 2021 deadline.  Applications are downloaded for review following the deadline, and applicants can expect to hear whether they move to the next stage within 15 days from the deadline. Subsequent selection process stages include telephone interviews with the applicant and mentor. The process from application submittal to Innovator start date is approximately 3 months.

A complete application consists of:

  • Complete Zintellect Profile

  • Letter of Commitment from the Host Institution: The letter should indicate the willingness of the mentor and Host Institution to host you as an Innovator onsite for the duration of the appointment (up to two years). The letter should also include a description of the proposed project(s) that the Innovator will focus on during the appointment.

  • Academic Records: The applicant must submit records for the most recent degree or degree in progress. Unofficial transcripts or copies of the student academic records printed by the applicant or by academic advisors from internal institutional systems may be submitted.

  • Current Resume/CV (2 page limit)

  • One (1) relevant letter of recommendation: The letter should address your academic record and potential for success as an Innovator, as indicated by communication and teamwork skills. 

  • Application Questions: The application includes questions specific to the Solar Energy Innovators Program. 

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Supporting materials must be uploaded as PDF files to ensure the document can be searched by Zintellect’s search engine. Documents sent by email, postal mail, or fax will not be considered. If you have questions, please send an email to Please list the reference code for this opportunity in the subject line of your email. Additional information about SEI can be found at:

Eligibility Requirements
  • Citizenship: LPR or U.S. Citizen
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, or Doctoral Degree.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Business (11 )
    • Communications and Graphics Design (1 )
    • Computer, Information, and Data Sciences (16 )
    • Earth and Geosciences (21 )
    • Engineering (27 )
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences (14 )
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (46 )
    • Mathematics and Statistics (10 )
    • Other Non-S&E (6 )
    • Other Physical Sciences (12 )
    • Physics (16 )
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (28 )
  • Age: Must be 18 years of age