DOE To Grant US $17.6M for Solar PV Development

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will award up to US $17.6 million, subject to annual appropriations, for six early stage solar photovoltaic (PV) module incubator projects that focus on the initial manufacturing of advanced solar PV technologies. Including the cost share from industry, which will be at least 20 percent, the total research investment is expected to reach US $35.4 million.

“These projects will help promote the development of a diverse set of photovoltaic technologies and ensure that the U.S. is a world leader in next-generation, cost-effective solar technologies,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch said. “These solar photovoltaic incubator awards will help accelerate the time it takes for innovative start-up companies to get their technologies to market.”

Through these projects, companies will seek to accelerate the time it takes to move innovative PV technologies from laboratory demonstration into pilot production, and to reduce the cost, improve performance and expand the manufacturing capacity of PV modules. The announcement of this funding opportunity was made March 3, 2008.

Upon negotiation of their subcontracts through DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the following six companies will begin their 18-month projects:

1366 Technologies is developing a new cell architecture and related processes for low-cost multi-crystalline silicon cells. By the end of the project, 1366 Technologies plans to deliver a 19 percent efficient, 15.6×15.6 cm², multi-crystalline silicon cell with a technology that is applicable across the crystalline silicon cell industry. (Up to US $3 million)

Innovalight is developing very high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells and modules by ink-jet printing their proprietary “silicon ink” onto thin-crystalline silicon wafers. The company’s contact-less printing process has been demonstrated to significantly reduce both the manufacturing costs and the complexity required to make today’s highly-efficient cells and modules. (Up to US $3 million)

Skyline Solar has developed an integrated lightweight, single-axis tracked system that has been demonstrated to reflect and concentrate sunlight over 10X onto silicon cells. By the end of this project, Skyline plans to deliver modules that exceed 12m² area and 15 percent aperture-area efficiency. (Up to US $3 million)

Solasta is using a cell design based on an amorphous-silicon “nanocoax” structure, which increases current and lowers materials cost by shortening the path charge carriers must travel to the cell’s conducting wires. If successful, Solasta will deliver 15 percent efficient, 100-cm² pre-production cells at the end of the project. (Up to US $2.6 million)

Solexel plans to commercialize a disruptive, 3D, high efficiency mono-crystalline silicon cell technology, while reducing manufacturing cost per watt. At the end of this project, Solexel plans to deliver a 17-19 percent efficient, 15.6×15.6 cm², single-crystal cell that consumes substantially lower silicon per watt than conventionally sliced wafers. (Up to US $3 million)

Spire Semiconductor plans on opening up the design space for three-junction tandem solar cells by growing differentiated bi-facial cells on a Gallium Arsenide substrate. Spire Semiconductor is targeting cell efficiencies over 42 percent using a low-cost manufacturing method. (Up to US $2.97 million)

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