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Under its SunShot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will hand out up to $112.5 million over the next five years to fund the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing processes throughout the U.S. The Department says that its SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships will assist the solar power industry in overcoming technical barriers and reducing costs for PV installations. This, the DOE hopes, should help the U.S. regain its position as a worldwide leader in solar technologies.

The SunShot Initiative aims to reduce the total cost of solar energy systems by roughly 75 percent – equivalent to approximately $1 a watt or 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for utility systems – before 2020. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement that:
Expanding the U.S. solar energy industry is an important part of the Administration's goals to diversify our electricity supply and rebuild America's manufacturing base to create jobs now and in the future.
Hit the jump for a list of projects selected to receive funds under the SunShot Initiative.

[Source: Department of Energy]
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Secretary Chu Announces Over $110 Million in SunShot Solar Manufacturing Projects
April 05, 2011

Solar Manufacturing Partnerships will boost American competitiveness in the global solar energy industry and lower the cost of clean, renewable energy

As part of the SunShot Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the selection of up to $112.5 million over five years for funding to support the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV)-related manufacturing processes throughout the United States. The Department's SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships will help the solar power industry overcome technical barriers and reduce costs for PV installations, help the U.S. regain the lead in the global market for solar technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come.

This program is modeled in part on SEMATECH (Semiconductor Manufacturing TECHnology). Faced with falling U.S. market share for the domestic semiconductor industry from 57 % in 1982 to 38 % in 1988, SEMATECH began working with domestic equipment suppliers to improve their capabilities. As a result of SEMATECH's work to solve common manufacturing problems by leveraging resources and sharing risks, within ten years the domestic semiconductor industry had grown by 16 percent. Through this award, SEMATECH will now apply similar ingenuity to helping the U.S. recapture the lead in solar manufacturing.

"Expanding the U.S. solar energy industry is an important part of the Administration's goals to diversify our electricity supply and rebuild America's manufacturing base to create jobs now and in the future," said Secretary Chu. "The SunShot Initiative will not only keep the United States at the forefront in solar energy research and development, but will help us win the worldwide race to build a solar manufacturing industry that produces solar systems that are cost competitive with fossil fuels ."

Today's investments are part of DOE's SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 % so that they are cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies by the end of the decade. Achieving this goal – equivalent to approximately $1 a watt or roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for utility systems – would allow solar energy systems to be broadly deployed across the country.

By engaging multiple companies across the PV supply chain, the SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships program intends to have broad impact on the U.S. solar industry. Selected projects will create organizations designed to bring PV companies together in a coordinated environment to address common technology needs. The facilities established through these projects will provide services, tools, and facilities to PV companies and suppliers to assist them in developing and demonstrating new technologies and in making the transition to commercial production. The program will also link universities and national labs with PV cell, materials, and equipment suppliers to help speed the rate of innovation through coordinated and focused PV manufacturing development. The selected industry-focused organizations will strongly leverage industry, state, and local funds, and are expected to achieve financial self-sufficiency after five years.

Funding was made available for applicants in university and industry. Both topics consider collaborative research models to accelerate manufacturing-related technologies and provide maximum leverage to federal funding. The selected projects are below:

Bay Area PV Consortium (Stanford, CA) – $25 million for University-Focused Development

Bay Area PV Consortium (BAPVC) will fund industry-relevant research and development to impact high volume PV manufacturing using a competitive selection process open to all universities. This project, managed by Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, will develop and test the innovative new materials, device structures, and fabrication processes necessary to achieve cost effective PV modules in high volume production. The research will advance technologies that bring down manufacturing costs and improve device performance characteristics to help achieve SunShot's price targets. An industry board composed of representatives from PV companies will determine the specific topics for research and development to assure close alignment with industry and manufacturing needs.

SVTC Technologies (San Jose, CA) – $25 million for Industry-Focused Development

SVTC will create a fee-for-service PV Manufacturing Development Facility (MDF) that will enable start-ups, materials suppliers, and other PV innovators to eliminate a major portion of their up-front capital and operating costs during product development and pilot production. This will potentially accelerate development and time to market by 12 to 15 months. The MDF will focus on the commercialization of silicon PV manufacturing processes and technologies, and aim to reduce the costs and development time for participating PV industry leaders to deliver innovative, emerging technologies from the laboratory to commercial manufacturing lines. The MDF will support SunShot targets by strengthening and accelerating growth along the PV manufacturing industry's entire supply chain by reducing the cost, time, and risk associated with commercialization.

U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (Albany, NY and Palm Bay, FL) – $62.5 million for Industry-Focused Development

Managed by SEMATECH, the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) will coordinate an industry‐driven research and development initiative to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of next‐generation copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin film PV manufacturing technologies, driving down the cost and risk of bringing them to the marketplace. PVMC with its major partner, The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at Albany, will establish manufacturing development facilities that PV companies and researchers can use for product prototyping, demonstration, and pilot‐scale manufacturing to evaluate and validate CIGS thin film and PV manufacturing technologies. PVMC will also work with The University of Central Florida to develop cost-effective in-line measurement and inspection tools to enable increased PV manufacturing yield. In addition, PVMC will operate complementary programs to foster new PV technologies and firms, and to develop the U.S. PV workforce. The proposed project will use heavy industry leveraging funds for every $1 of DOE funding.

The SunShot program builds on the legacy of President Kennedy's 1960s "moon shot" goal, which laid out a plan to regain the country's lead in the space race and land a man on the moon. The program will aggressively drive innovations in the ways that solar systems are conceived, designed, manufactured and installed.

For more information and to follow the SunShot Initiative's progress, visit the SunShot Initiative webpage .


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  • 10 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      The purpose of Government money should to assist an industry to do research and move products to production; Sooner or later the industry must stand on its own.

      Our Government wastes money a bunch by subsides to existing industries, tax reduction for the rich, rescue money to industries and creating wars over oil.

      So, one wonders why we are going broke? The money has not been used wisely.
      harlanx6
      • 4 Years Ago

      Although I am skeptical whenever the government gets involved, this
      isn't a lot of money compared to this administration's 7 trillion
      dollar deficit, and I approve of the direction of this investment. We
      just need oversight to make sure this money doesn't end up in the hands of
      rich political cronies like the stimulus program did.
      • 4 Months Ago
      As someone who is currently putting a PV system together, the biggest problem for the DIYer is having to design the entire system and purchase all of the components separately. Instead, I should be able to purchase a pre-built charge controller, inverter, disconnects, fuses, lightning, grounding, etc system all put together. Then I just plug in the solar panels, and plug it into the grid.
        • 4 Months Ago
        """Exactly, you should be able to buy a bunch of panels from home depot or lowes and take them home, set them up on the roof and plug them in and watch your meter spin backwards on a sunny day."""

        No you shouldn't.You are playing with high voltages and anytime you're sending power into the grid, it needs to be done right. Exactly how familiar are you with the current NEC?
        • 4 Months Ago
        The Enphase micro inverters make installing solar as hard as stringing Christmas lights. You can start with a single panel, add more at any time from different manufacturers without worrying about balancing the system. If you can add a 30amp double pole breaker to your box, you've done the most technical part of the install.
        • 4 Months Ago
        Well, hopefully you're only using a 30A double-pole breaker if you've combined 2 strings as the typical Enphase setup (M190 or M210 inverter) uses multiple 15A strings of up to 15 panels each (only 13 in the case of the M210). The M380 lets you hook up 10 inverters / 20 panels on a 20A circuit.

        If you have multiple circuits these will typically get combined into a dedicated sub-panel which will feed into your main panel using the appropriate sized wire/breakers.

        It's not rocket science but does require that you know the fundamentals of electrical work. Enphase provides plenty of information to take a lot of the guess work out of it.

        In terms of the other misc-hardware bits - the requirements will vary depending on the details of the install, but definitely standardizing things to kit form with options for specifics of the install would lower costs.
        • 4 Months Ago
        Exactly, you should be able to buy a bunch of panels from home depot or lowes and take them home, set them up on the roof and plug them in and watch your meter spin backwards on a sunny day.

        That way you could buy a few panels when you have the money set them up and see how they work. Then you could buy more later and add onto your system. If you have a bunch of them and want to increase output you could get a solar tracking rack.

        Enphase has panels with built in micro-inverters that gets us half way there. We still need a system that is foolproof and easy for the do-it-yourself-er to install in an afternoon.
        http://www.enphaseenergy.com/products/index.cfm
      • 4 Months Ago
      " there is simply not enough energy density to derive much from Solar."

      A garage rooftop installation whose cost can be recovered in three years can offset enough electricity to power an EV for the average driver, who after three years is driving for free all the while using no petroleum.

      If every commuter did that we could stop importing oil, subsidizing oil, and defending foreign oil reserves. Over five years that money makes the SunShot initiative look like a rounding error.
      • 4 Months Ago
      This will follow the familiar pattern.We spend taxpayer money to develop the new tech and the manufacturers take it to China to manufacture at half the price, where they steal it and take over the market. That is exactly what has happened to todays PV market.
      • 4 Months Ago
      More total economic nonsense.

      This travesty is what happens when R&D investment funds are controlled by politically correct idiots. Impossibilities are funded, as if they will ever have the practicality necessary to survive, while valid approaches are ignored. Nuclear fission aside, there is much more to be derived from replacing old antiquated Coal plants with modern, higher thermal efficiency and toxically clean Coal plants. For every Carter grandfathered Coal plant replaced with a new model, more than 95% of the pollution is removed, while efficiency derived energy of up to 10% is provided for "free".

      No matter how the politically correct, but Scientifically illiterates try, there is simply not enough energy density to derive much from Solar. Indeed the waste thermal pollution of such efforts is gargantuan, and is not recognized or appreciated, by these scientific illiterates.

      When fully 90% of any net energy, is turned to waste Heat, and thermal pollution, Solar is the genuine global warming disease, were it to ever happen. Thankfully we are just pouring R&D money down a rat hole with no expectation of any return.

      Of all the certifiable signboard crackpots in the Obama Administration, Dr. Chu is at least somewhat scientifically literate. But he is entirely out of his specialty, and a pure tool, dominated by the likes of Carol Browner, Lisa Jackson, John Holdren, and the rest of the Leftist "Ignoratti".