The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has made available more than $53 million for 40 innovative research and development (R&D) projects that drive down the cost of solar energy, using next generation photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies and advanced manufacturing processes, and addressing both hardware and non-hardware “soft” costs of solar installation.
The United States currently has 15.9 GW of installed solar power or enough to power more than 3.2 million average American homes. These new projects will help the U.S. solar industry continue to grow, leading in clean energy innovation.
In part as a result of the DOE’s long-term investments and partnerships with private industry, academia, and DOE National Laboratories, solar PV panels cost 50 percent as much as they did three years ago. To accelerate the development of next generation PV technologies that will further drive costs down, DOE is awarding more than $14 million to 10 research institutions to explore a variety of leading-edge solutions — from new high-performance materials to novel techniques for creating more efficient solar cells that cost less to manufacture — ultimately improving the performance, efficiency, and durability of solar PV devices.
Through its SunShot Incubator program, DOE is investing more than $14 million in 20 small businesses that will develop innovative technologies and services to further drive down hardware and non-hardware costs for solar electric systems, via a number of creative solutions. For example, creating a software-based solution to quantify risk for solar investors, developing advanced materials and components that maximize efficiency for concentrating solar power (CSP) and identifying ways to eliminate the need for expensive silver in solar cell manufacturing.
In support of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, the Energy Department is awarding more than $24 million to 10 U.S.-based solar manufacturers working to develop and implement innovative technologies that will reduce costs and increase efficiency in manufacturing processes used to make PV and CSP technologies, focusing on such cost contributors as raw materials, labor-intensive processes, and capital expenses.