The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has pledged US$20.3 million for innovative projects in a bid to strengthen the country’s solar manufacturing industry, improve manufacturing efficiencies, and reduce costs. The money will be invested as part of the DOE’s SunShot program.
As part of the initiative, the DOE will provide support for companies across the solar energy supply chain, including U.S. material and tool suppliers and organizations that are developing technologies that can be adopted directly into current manufacturing processes.
The award recipients, which are pursuing projects that focus on technology improvements that will lead to improved solar cell efficiency, reduced production costs, and a stronger domestic photovoltaic (PV) industry include:
1366 Technologies’ US$3 million Massachusetts-based project: aimed at developing a new manufacturing process that reduces the cost of producing silicon wafers for use in silicon PV modules. The Direct Wafer process delivers significant improvements in manufacturing efficiency since it does not require sawing individual wafers from blocks of silicon.
3M’s Minnesota-based initiative: to develop and commercialize a flexible, highly transparent Ultra Barrier Topsheet in order to enable the successful commercialization of flexible photovoltaic modules. This project is expected to cost US$4.4 million.
PPG’s US$3.1 million project, located in Cheswick, Pennsylvania: to develop the materials, coating designs, and manufacturing processes necessary to commercialize a new glass article for the cadmium telluride (CdTe) module manufacturing industry.
Varian Semiconductor’s US$4.8 million, Gloucester, Massachusetts-based development: to reduce the cost of manufacturing interdigitated back contact cells, the most efficient silicon solar cells on the market.
Veeco’s US$4.8 million R&D program located in Lowell, Massachusetts: to accelerate the research and development, integration and commercialization of an innovative thin-film CIGS PV multi-stage thermal deposition production system in order to manufacture cost-efficient CIGS PV solar cells.