A US$50 million fund is up for grabs by the US Department of Energy to domestic PV manufacturers wanting to take solar technology from the lab to the fab to help restore the United States as being at the forefront of solar manufacturing. The funding program is the second solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative (PVMI) initiative, dubbed SUNPATH, which stands for Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home.
The SUNPATH initiative is designed to support companies with pilot level commercial production facilities to scale up their manufacturing capabilities so that they can fast track the ramp. The DOE noted that this is often the most difficult stage for start-up to bridge.
The key target for the funding is for domestic firms that can demonstrate innovative, low-cost solar technologies, which are in certain areas already being supported via the PVMI initiative. The DOE said that its national laboratories were stepping up their validation facilities to ensure that the technologies developed and manufactured in PVMI Parts I and II are tested at scale in multiple locations and climates in the United States.
“This investment provides a necessary boost to domestic solar manufacturing businesses, encouraging them to keep jobs here and establish America's leadership in the world's growing clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “In addition to invigorating clean energy manufacturing, this program will help achieve the SunShot goal of making unsubsidized utility-scale solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.”
The DOE said it was seeking applicants with industrial-scale demonstrations of PV modules, cells, or substrates that offer lower-cost solutions in line with the SunShot goals and that applications for possible funding were due by October 28, 2011.
DOE's national laboratories are stepping up their validation facilities to ensure that the technologies developed and manufactured in Parts I and II are tested at scale in multiple locations and climates in the United States.