DOE Awards $168 M in Solar America Initiative Funding

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced today that thirteen industry-led solar technology projects will receive up to $168 million in funding — subject to appropriation from Congress — as part of President Bush’s Solar America Initiative (SAI), which is a component of the Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI).

The teams selected to receive the funding have formed Technology Pathway Partnerships (TPP) made up of more than 50 companies, 14 universities, three nonprofit organizations and two national laboratories. Secretary Bodman made the announcement during a visit this afternoon to Konarka Global Headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts, one of the companies slated to receive a portion of the FY’07-’09 funding through the TPP. “Solar technology can play a crucial role in moving toward affordable net zero energy homes and businesses — which combine energy efficiency and renewable energy produced onsite,” said Secretary Bodman. “Efficient buildings with solar power generation can help reduce peak demand and ease the need for expensive new generating capacity, transmission and distributions lines as our economy grows.” Konarka’s project — in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Delaware — will focus on manufacturing research and product reliability assurance for extremely low-cost photovoltaic cells using organic dyes that convert sunlight to electricity. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be $1,200,000, with approximately $3,600,000, available over three years if the team meets its goals. As an integral part of the AEI, the Solar America Initiative aims to bring down the cost of solar energy to make it competitive with conventional electricity sources in the U.S. by 2015. The SAI is also part of the President’s commitment to diversify U.S. energy resources through grants, incentives and tax credits and aims to spur widespread commercialization and deployment of clean solar energy technologies across America. “Because of its potential to deliver very low cost solutions to the existing grid-tied markets, the DOE considers organic photovoltaics to be a vital element of our research and development portfolio. As well, with its manufacturability, high volume potential and desired material attributes, it can open up new applications for the market,” said Craig Cornelius, the technology manager of the Department of Energy Solar Energies Program. As part of the cost-shared agreements, the industry-led teams will contribute more than 50 percent of the funding for these projects for a total value of up to $357 million over three years. These cooperative agreements, to be negotiated, will be the first made available as part of President Bush’s Solar America Initiative. Teams selected under the Solar America Initiative along with the Konarka partnership include: Amonix — A low-cost, high-concentration PV system for utility markets. This project will focus on manufacturing technology for high-concentrating PV and on low-cost production using multi-bandgap cells. Partners for the project include CYRO Industries, Xantrex, the Imperial Irrigation District, Hernandez Electric, the NREL, Spectrolab, Micrel, Northstar, JOL Enterprises, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Arizona State University. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $3,200,000, with approximately $14,800,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Boeing — High-efficiency concentrating photovoltaic power system. This project will focus on cell fabrication research that is expected to yield very high efficiency systems. The partners for the project will be Light Prescription Innovators, PV Powered, Array Technologies, James Gregory Associates, Sylarus, Southern California Edison, NREL, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California Merced. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be approximately $5,900,000, with approximately $13,300,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. BP Solar — Low-cost approach to grid parity using crystalline silicon. This project’s research will focus on reducing wafer thickness while improving yield of multi-crystalline silicon PV for commercial and residential markets. Project partners include Dow Corning, Ceradyne, Bekaert, Ferro, Specialized Technology Resources, Komax, Palo Alto Research Center, AFG Industries, Automation Tooling Systems Ohio, Xantrex, Fat Spaniel, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Recticel, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Central Florida, and Arizona State University. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be approximately $7,500,000, with approximately $19,100,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Dow Chemical — PV-integrated residential and commercial building solutions. This project will employ Dow’s expertise in encapsulates, adhesives, and high volume production to develop integrated PV-powered technologies for roofing products. Partners include Miasole, SolFocus, Fronius, IBIS Associates, and the University of Delaware. Subject to negotiations, funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $3,300,000, with approximately $9,400,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. General Electric – A value chain partnership to accelerate U.S. PV growth. This project will develop various cell technologies – including a new bifacial, high-efficiency silicon cell that could be incorporated into systems solutions that can be demonstrated across the industry. Partners include REC Silicon, Xantrex, Solaicx, the Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, and the University of Delaware. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $8,100,000, with approximately $18,600,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Greenray — Development of an AC module system. This team will design and develop a high-powered, ultra-high-efficiency solar module that contains an inverter, eliminating the need to install a separate inverter and facilitating installation by homeowners. Research will focus on increasing the lifetime of the inverter. Partners include Sanyo, Tyco Electronics, Coal Creek Design, BluePoint Associates, National Grid, and Sempra Utilities. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $400,000, with approximately $2,300,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Miasole — Low-cost, scalable, flexible PV systems with integrated electronics. This project will develop high-volume manufacturing technologies and PV component technologies. Research will focus on new types of flexible thin-film modules with integrated electronics and advances in technologies used for installation and maintenance. Project partners include Exeltech, Carlisle SynTec, Sandia National Laboratories, NREL, the University of Colorado, and the University of Delaware. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be $5,800,000, with approximately $20,000,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Nanosolar — Low-cost, scaleable PV systems for commercial rooftops. This project will work on improved low-cost systems and components using back-contacted thin-film PV cells for commercial buildings. Research will focus on large-area module deposition, inverters, and mounting. Partners include SunLink, SunTechnics, and Conergy. Subject to negotiations, DOE funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $1,100,000, with approximately $20,000,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Powerlight — PV cell-independent effort to improve automated manufacturing systems. This project will focus on reducing non-cell costs by making innovations with automated design tools and with modules that include mounting hardware. Partners include Specialized Technology Resources and Autodesk. Subject to negotiations, first-budget period funding for this project is expected to be approximately $2,800,000, with approximately $6,000,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. Practical Instruments — Low-profile high concentration CPV systems for rooftop applications. This project will explore a novel concept for low-concentration optics to increase the output of rooftop PV systems. The project will also explore designs using multi-junction cells to allow for very high efficiency modules. Project partners include Spectrolab, Sandia National Laboratories, SunEdison, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Subject to negotiations, funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $2,200,000, with approximately $4,000,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. SunPower — Grid-competitive residential solar power generating systems. This project will research lower-cost ingot and wafer fabrication technologies, automated manufacture of back-contact cells, and new module designs, to lower costs. Project partners include Solaicx, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NREL, and Xantrex. Subject to negotiations, first-budget period funding for this project is expected to be approximately $7,700,000, with approximately $17,900,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. United Solar Ovonic — Low-cost thin-film building-integrated PV systems. This project will focus on increasing the efficiency and deposition rate of multi-bandgap, flexible, thin-film photovoltaic cells and reducing the cost of inverters and balance-of-system components. Partners include SMA America, Sat Con Technology Corporation, PV Powered, the ABB Group, Solectria Renewables, Developing Energy Efficient Roof Systems, Turtle Energy, Sun Edison, the University of Oregon, Syracuse University, the Colorado School of Mines, and NREL. Subject to negotiations, funding for the first year of the project is expected to be roughly $2,400,000, with approximately $19,300,000 available over three years if the team meets its goals. According to the DOE, the 13 projects will enable the projected expansion of the annual U.S. manufacturing capacity of PV systems from 240 megawatts (MW) in 2005 to as much as 2,850 MW by 2010, representing more than a ten-fold increase. Such capacity would also put the U.S. industry on track to reduce the cost of electricity produced by PV from current levels of $0.18-$0.23 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to $0.05 – $0.10 per kWh by 2015 — a price that is competitive in markets nationwide.

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