Tuesday, February 2, 2010

DOE Announces $12 Million Funding for Solar

The Department of Energy has announced another $12 million in funding for solar technology research and development. The funds will go to four separate projects working intently on solar photovoltaics (PV), with all four working in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. The goal is to facilitate the transfer of cutting-edge solar technologies to commercialization.

While the vast majority ($10 million) of the funds are allocated under the Recovery Act, they are being officially channeled through the DOE’s Photovoltaic Incubator Program, which works to put prototype solar tech into demonstration or full-scale projects. Roughly $3 million will be awarded to each company as part of an 18-month subcontract with the DOE. The four award winners are:

  • Alta Devices Inc. of Santa Clara, California. Alta will try to develop and commercialize a solar module with a conversion efficiency better than 20 percent. They plan for market entry in 2011.
  • Solar Junction Corp., based in San Jose, Calif. will develop a manufacturing process for a high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell. They are intended for use in concentrating photovoltaics (CPV).
  • Tetra Sun, another California company, will work on developing a back-surface passivation, which helps protect a semiconductor from contamination, for crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells. The result should be high-efficiency, low-cost c-Si solar cells, which are already the most efficient and durable solar cells on the market.
  • Moving eastward, Semprius Inc., based in Durham, North Carolina, will develop a “massively parallel,” microcell-based CPV receiver. The company will combine manufacturing techniques unique to solar power with the inherent benefits of CPV.

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