US government invests US$112.5 million in SunShot manufacturing initiative

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The U.S. government has unveiled the latest stage of its SunShot initiative, which will see US$112.5 million invested in the solar manufacturing sector over the next five years. Funds are being directed towards three partnership projects, located in California, Florida and New York, and will be used to help revitalise the U.S. solar industry by reducing costs and increasing the competitiveness of large-scale projects.

Through engaging with multiple companies across the solar supply chain, the SunShot programme aims to bring companies together, allowing them to address common technology shortcomings and improve the efficiency of commercial production. The programme will also create a link between university and national laboratories and cell, materials and equipment suppliers.

The lion’s share of the investment has been handed out to the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC), which received US$62.5 million for its sites in Albany and Palm Bay. At these two locations, PVMC will carry out research and development into manufacturing and commercialisation of next-generation copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film technologies. Partnering PVMC on the research is the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York in Albany, which is building facilities to help with product prototyping, demonstration, and pilot-scale manufacturing.

The remaining US50 million is being shared equally between the California-based Bay Area PV Consortium (BAPVC) and SVTC Technologies. Both of these sites will also carry out research and development, with BAPVC focusing on new materials, device structures, and fabrication processes at its Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley research centres, and SVTC working on a fee-for-service PV Manufacturing Development Facility (MDF) to enable start-ups, materials suppliers and other PV innovators to eliminate a major portion of their up-front capital and operating costs during product development.

“Expanding the U.S. solar energy industry is an important part of the Administration's goals to diversify our electricity supply and rebuild America's manufacturing base to create jobs now and in the future,” Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “The SunShot Initiative will not only keep the United States at the forefront in solar energy research and development, but will help us win the worldwide race to build a solar manufacturing industry that produces solar systems that are cost competitive with fossil fuels.”

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