Today (Dec. 11) the Department of Energy (DOE) said it is supporting solar manufacturing in the U.S. by investing a total of $13 million in five solar companies across the country. The funds are matched by $14 million in private funding and are designed to help the companies improve manufacturing of solar equipment in the U.S.
The funds were awarded to Abengoa Solar in Lakewood, Colo., PPG Industries in Allison Park, Pa., Solaria Corp. in Fremont, Calif., SolarWorld Industries America in Hillsboro, Ore. and Suniva, Inc. in Norcross, Ga. commercialization of efficient, affordable photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies. As part of the Department’s SunShot Initiative, these awards will help lower the cost of solar electricity, support a growing U.S. solar workforce and increase U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy market.
Of all the awards, only Abengoa’s award will support concentrating solar power (CSP). The rest will support advances in photovoltaic manufacturing. Abengoa will use the $1.9 million and equal cost-share to show new manufacturing and assembly technologies for CSP components, including trough component manufacturing and on-site assembly technologies.
PPG is partnering with Flextronics International to design automated and rapid assembly of PV modules. It won $2.1 million and matched the award with $2.1 million. The technologies the companies are working on aim to increase module production by a factor of four, cut capital costs in half, and make it easier to introduce next-generation PV.
Solaria won $2 million and matched it with $3 million. The company will use the funds to automate PV manufacturing, which will allow the company to take on high-volume manufacturing in the U.S.
SolarWorld won $2.4 million and matched it with $2.5 million. The funds there will allow the company to implement a new light management system into its PV modules. The system is designed to reduce optical loss, increasing the efficiency of SolarWorld’s modules.
Suniva won the lion’s share of $4.5 million, matching it with $4.9 million. Suniva and the Georgia Institute of Technology will use the funds to introduce a low-cost high-efficiency PV cell technology (21.5 percent efficient pilot cells) that should be market ready within three years.
“We have a tremendous opportunity for American manufacturing to lead the global clean energy market and help pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz.
The funds will help the U.S. manufacture more solar equipment domestically, but already the majority of modules available today come from China.