US DOE to award US$20 million in funding for solar cells and cadmium telluride research

The US DOE’s R&D funding aims to reduce PV module costs and optimise PV technology in new and emerging markets. Image: Niels van Loon

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a funding opportunity worth up to US$20 million through the 2024 Photovoltaics Research and Development initiative.

The funding is open to applications from groups, which have been encouraged to join the DOE’s ‘teaming partner list’ to collaborate with other applicants and launch joint proposals for funding. Carried out by the US DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), the DOE expects to allocate funding to between eight and 15 projects, with each to receive $1-4 million. The deadline to submit a letter of intent has been set to 12 June 2024.

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The funding will go towards two areas of interest, one regarding optimising PV cell efficiency and the other cadmium telluride (CdTe) research equipment.

The first area aims to develop innovative PV cell and minimodule prototypes to find ways to reduce PV module cost, reduce carbon and energy intensity of PV manufacturing processes and optimise PV technology in new and emerging markets.

In particular, the DOE is looking into four areas: reduction of emissions created during the manufacturing of silicon from quartz, crystalline silicon PV cell design, III-V cell design and organic PV cell design.

The second area aims to fund academic research and development projects in new or improved CdTe research equipment. The goals for this area are to increase the speed of CdTe cell and module research; improve efficiency, durability and energy yield of CdTe PV cells; develop new CdTe cell designs that could outperform current technology and improve materials produced at an academic level, which could then be replicated commercially by the industry.

The news is the latest instance of growing interest in the thin-film sector, and follows the publication of a report, funded by CdTe manufacturer FIrst Solar, that the thin-film manufacturing sector alone could add US$10 billion to the US economy.

More information, including how to apply for the funding, can be accessed from the DOE’s page here.

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