DOE awards $57 million in new small business grants; three solar PV companies get $4.6M

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The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $57 million in new grants to support small business technology commercialization projects in the clean energy sector, as part of DOE’s Small Business Phase III Xlerator program. Among the 33 renewable energy, advanced vehicle, efficiency, smart grid, clean fuel, and other companies receiving awards are a trio of firms working to advance solar PV technology and manufacturing—Applied Nanotech, Microlink, and Ultrasonic Technologies—that garnered a total of $4.6 million in DOE grants.

These Phase III Xlerator awards, all given to small businesses in partnership with universities, national labs, and large businesses, are a first for DOE and build on its existing efforts under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. 

Previously, the SBIR and STTR programs through the Department of Energy have only been funded through Phase II. Companies that had previously received DOE SBIR or STTR funding were eligible to apply for the Phase III grants. 

The awards range from $500,000 to $3 million and will provide small innovative companies with the “staying power” they need to develop the processes that are necessary to reduce the manufacturing costs for their products and enable manufacturing at scale, according to DOE.

The following three projects have been selected for awards under the heading “Solar Technologies: Lowering the Cost of Photovoltaics”:

Applied Nanotech (Austin, TX), will receive DOE funding of $1.6 million for the development of high- capacity manufacturing of noncontact, printable metallic inks for silicon solar cells. The company is  developing a metallic ink that can be used to make electrical connections to solar cells, a new approach that will allow companies to make thinner solar cells to save on the amount of silicon used.

Microlink (Niles, IL) won an award of $1.6 million to perfect its backside contact multijunction solar cells for high-concentration applications. The company’s technology features a process to create smaller as well as thinner HCPV solar cells, something previously not possible. It has also found a way to move the metal grid used to collect the energy the cell creates to the back of the device, thereby increasing the amount of light that can be captured.

Ultrasonic Technologies (Tampa, FL) received $1.4 million in DOE funds to develop resonance ultrasonic vibration (RUV) technology as an industrial tool for silicon solar manufacturing. The company’s equipment lightly vibrates each solar cell as they pass by, damaged cells vibrate in a different way than intact cells, and Ultrasonic’s statistical software analyzes the behavior of each cell and rejects cells with excellent accuracy, thus greatly speeding up the flow of production, increasing manufacturing yields, and lowering costs, according to DOE.

“Small businesses are engines of job creation and innovation, and we need their ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to drive a clean energy economy,” said DOE Secretary Steven Chu. “By helping America’s small businesses bring these innovative technologies to market, we will spur economic growth and help reduce the country’s energy use.”

19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.
20 October 2021
Utility-scale solar is evolving, shaped by higher power modules and demand for increasingly lower levelised cost of electricity (LCOE). Those trends are also changing project requirements elsewhere, with inverters capable of delivering high power density and power capacity in strong demand. In this webinar, FIMER will detail how its innovative high-power, multi-MPPT string inverter and modular conversion solution can both meet those demands and transform the utility-scale solar sector for the better.
20 October 2021
The race is on but we need to sprint… With global climate talks fast approaching and time running out to prevent the most disastrous impacts of climate change, now is the time to act. The Summit will explore the opportunities that emerge from taking action on climate change and provide a clear pathway forward for governments, citizens and companies. Taking place just 10 days before the G20 meeting in Rome, on 30-31 of October, and in the lead up to the critical COP26 meeting in Glasgow from 31 October–12 November, this event will be instrumental in influencing ambitious global action.
10 November 2021
The solar tracker market continues to mature at breakneck speed, with designs and component selections becoming ever-more complex in the pursuit of better project economics. But a more simplistic design could deliver a triple benefit of lower Capex, EPC and Opex costs. This webinar will set out the ideal single axis tracker design for utility-scale solar farms. The design leapfrogs from decades of experience, with a comprehensive understanding and attention to the three cost structures of Capex, EPC and Opx. Sun and Steel Solar has prototyped a single axis tracker designed to deliver up to US$0.03/W in real savings compared to existing single axis trackers on the market. That’s US$30 million for every gigawatt deployed.
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The 10th edition of the famous Metallization and Interconnection Workshop, MIW2021, will take place in the Thor Central venue in Genk, Belgium, on Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021 as a face-to-face meeting. We are longing for direct exchange of knowledge and ideas after a long time. Hopefully you can be part of it! But of course, the organizors will keep an eye on the evolution of the Covid pandemic. It will be assess carefully, whether the workshop can be held without major risks or excessive restrictions. We are looking forward to exciting talks, discussions and meetings and to welcoming you in Genk!
23 November 2021
The solar, storage and EV industries in the UK are going from strength to strength. There is no better place for the community to meet, share ideas and do business than Solar & Storage Live from 23-25 November at the NEC.There’s something for everyone; more than 150 exhibitors, a high-level conference, a start up and innovation zone, a poster zone, strategic partners to network with and much more. 

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