DOE Increases SunSpot Funding By $112 Million

New funding goes toward three major projects.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) is pledging another $112.5 million over five years to support more solar energy projects under its SunShot initiative.

In February the DoE launched its "SunShot" initiative to improve solar PV systems, pledging $27 million to support nine solar projects, including material and tool suppliers, as well as a $7 million PV Incubator program. The program has 4 main pillars:

  • Advance technologies for solar cells and systems;
  • Optimize the performance of solar installation;
  • Improve the efficiency of the solar system manufacturing processes; and
  • Improve the efficiency for solar energy system installation, design and permitting.

The new announcement bumps funding to $112.5 million for three major projects:

  • The US PV manufacturing Consortium (PVMC). Managed by SEMATECH at the University of Albany (NY)'s CNSE, the PVMC will get $62.5 million in DoE funding to coordinate industry-driven research and development to accelerate CIGS thin-film PV manufacturing technologies. The group will establish manufacturing development facilities for product prototyping, demos, and pilot-scale manufacturing for CIGS evaluation and validation. Other work done through a partnership with the U. of Central Florida will look at cost-effective in-line measurement and inspection tools. PVMC also will operate complementary programs to support new PV technologies and companies. This project also comes with "heavy industry leveraging funds for every $1 of DOE funding."
  • SVTC Technologies. $25 million will go to SVTC Technologies, ne Cypress Semiconductor's Silicon Valley Technology Center which was spun off in March 2007 with VC/private equity backing and subsequently combined with SEMATECH's ATDF. (Not to be confused with another solar-centric SVTC, the "Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition," creators of the annual "Solar Scorecard" ranking PV module makers' environmental performance.) SVTC will create a fee-for-service PV Manufacturing Development Facility (MDF) to help support startups and other pre-commercialization companies accelerate development and time-to-market -- much as it has been doing with CMOS, MEMS, and other semiconductor-related areas. Its focus will be on commercializing silicon PV manufacturing processes and technologies.
  • Bay Area PV Consortium (BAPVC). $25 million will go to the BAPVC, run by Stanford and University of California-Berkeley and overseen by a board of industry PV companies choosing specific topics, to fund university-focused R&D for high-volume PV manufacturing. BAPVC will develop and test innovative new materials, device structures, and fabrication processes, with goals of producing technologies that bring down manufacturing costs and improve device performance characteristics.
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