US DOE offering $170M for solar power improvements

The US Department of Energy has pledged to invest >$200M over five years to expand and accelerate work in renewable energy technologies, with the bulk going toward solar power efforts.

April 27, 2010 – The US Department of Energy has pledged to invest >$200M over five years to expand and accelerate work in renewable energy technologies, with the bulk going toward solar power efforts.

Among the projects laid out by the DOE:

  • PV manufacturing initiative: up to $125M/five years. This portion targets manufacturing-focused research projects (at the university and industry levels) promising to foster greater industry cooperation with near- and mid-term impact on the US solar industry. Concept papers due June 3; full applications due in early August.
  • PV supply chain development: up to $40M/three years. This area of funding seeks to identify and accelerate unique products/processes that will have major industry impact via the supply chain in the next 2-5 years, helping to meet goals of cost-competitiveness and implementation. Examples: engineering lower-cost coating materials, performance-improving electrical components, waste-reducing processes, or equipment that “dramatically improves manufacturing or installation speed.” Applications due July 2.
  • A national administrator for solar instructor training: up to $4.5M/five years. A National Administrator will be selected to act as a central coordinating body for the Training Network, created in 2009 by the DOE to establish and support local training for personnel involved in most aspects of solar PV and heating/cooling systems: sales, design, installation, commissioning, and inspection. Awards were made to nine regional resource and training providers. The administrator will manage collaboration among Training Network members, disseminate products and conduct outreach efforts (e.g., recommend & adopt best practices). The organization will serve as a national point of contact for the Training Network, and work with various “stakeholders” to define, prioritize, and address issues related to solar training and workforce development. Applications due June 15.

“Expanding the US clean-energy manufacturing base is an important part of the Administration’s goals to diversify electricity supply options, increase national security, and accelerate green jobs development,” said US DOE Secretary Steven Chu, in a statement. “These investments will help strengthen American competitiveness in renewable energy and transform the US into a lasting manufacturing presence in the 21st century clean-energy economy.”

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