Department of Energy Invests $13 Million to Drive Innovative U.S. Solar Manufacturing

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The Department of Energy has announced over $13 million for five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed development of cost-effective manufacturing processes for PV and CSP technologies. As part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, the program funds developments that can achieve a significant market impact in one to four years.

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced over $13 million for five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed development of cost-effective manufacturing processes for photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies.

The awardees are:

Abengoa Solar (approximately $1.94 million): Abengoa will demonstrate new manufacturing and assembly technologies for use in CSP parabolic trough systems to achieve cost reduction and also to enable innovative technology to quickly enter the market. This project will focus on highly automated manufacture of trough components, on-site assembly of the troughs at the solar field, and improved quality control using automated inspection.

PPG Industries (approximately $2.15 million): PPG will partner with Flextronics International to design and pilot a rapid PV module assembly process that replaces labor-intensive steps with automation. This approach is expected to increase the rate of module production by a factor of four, cut capital costs in half, and reduce barriers delaying the implementation of next-generation PV technologies that increase module efficiency and reduce costs.

Solaria Corporation (approximately $2.01 million): Solaria will cut costs for its low-concentration silicon PV module by automating manufacturing process steps. This removes a primary barrier to enabling Solaria’s high-volume PV module manufacturing in the United States.

SolarWorld Industries America (approximately $2.44 million): SolarWorld will incorporate an advanced light management system into their PV modules that will achieve substantial efficiency improvements at little additional cost. The light management system reduces optical losses and represents a large, unrealized opportunity for module efficiency improvements. The proposed SolarWorld approach cost-effectively utilizes low-cost components implemented using highly automated robotic systems.

Suniva (approximately $4.50 million): Suniva, in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology, will deploy a low-cost highly efficient silicon PV cell technology that will reach the marketplace within three years and that meets the SunShot 2020 target of ≤ $0.50/W module cost. This effort will overcome cost and efficiency barriers through advances in PV science and technology innovation involving new process tools, resulting in pilot production of 21.5% efficient cells.

As part of the Department’s SunShot Initiative, this program funds the development of innovative manufacturing technologies that can achieve a significant market impact in one to four years.

The awards will help drive affordable, efficient solar power in the United States and help industry partners meet the SunShot Initiative’s goal to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. These investments will also support a growing U.S. solar workforce, increase U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy market, and support the department’s broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to increase the efficiency of the U.S. manufacturing sector and ensure that clean energy technologies continue to be made in America.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz commented: “We have a tremendous opportunity for American manufacturing to lead the global clean energy market and help pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”

Find more information about the projects awarded here.