5 February 2011

DOE’s PV Incubator program invests $7m in fourth round of projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the investment of up to $7m in total funding through its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of Golden, CO, USA to support the development and commercialization of emerging solar energy technologies.

Launched in 2007, the Photovoltaic (PV) Technology Incubator program has the primary goal of advancing the timeline and commercial potential of new manufacturing processes and products with the potential for dramatic price improvements.

“The startup companies awarded under the Incubator program will truly benefit the manufacturing processes and products in the US through rapid commercialization of these innovative technologies,” says NREL incubator manager Martha Symko-Davies.

This is the fourth installment of the PV Incubator program where companies benefit from close partnership with the national laboratories. Previous awardees, including Calisolar and Abound Solar, have developed new PV technologies with DOE support and are now scaling their domestic manufacturing operations while creating jobs in their communities. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker Abound Solar of Loveland, CO, USA currently has about 350 staff in Colorado and 65MW of manufacturing capacity, with plans to expand to 775MW via a recently announced $400m federal loan guarantee.

In this current round, companies were selected in one of two categories: Tier 1, representing the development of commercially viable prototypes (receiving up to $1m over 12 months); and Tier 2, representing the development and manufacturing scale-up of pilot-scale processes (receiving up to $4m over 18 months). Funding will be issued through NREL.

The Tier 1 projects (subject to negotiation) include:

  • Caelux of Pasadena, CA, which is developing a flexible solar cell manufacturing process and design that could reduce production costs by minimizing the amount of semiconductor material used while also having the potential to surpass standard device efficiency.
  • Solexant of San Jose, CA, which is developing a new thin-film material comprised entirely of materials that are non-toxic and abundant on Earth, including copper, zinc, tin, selenium and/or sulfur (CZTS). Devices will be constructed with a non-particle ink that can be printed and should result in commercially viable efficiencies using scalable, low-cost processes.
  • Stion of San Jose, CA, which is developing copper indium gallium sulfide-(di)selenide (CIGSSe) technology that should allow two high-efficiency thin-film solar devices to be stacked, allowing better absorption of light. Devices are constructed in a way that can reduce cost, simplify manufacturing and reduce material utilization over traditional designs.

The Tier 2 project (subject to negotiation) is:

  • Crystal Solar of Santa Clara, CA, which is developing a new technology for the fabrication, handling, processing and packaging of very thin single-crystal silicon wafers (four times thinner than standard cells). This uses much less silicon, eliminating many of the wasteful and expensive wafer-processing steps and addressing the problem of handling very thin wafers.

See related items:

NREL seeks proposals for PV Technology Incubator program

DOE provides $12m for four early-stage PV firms

Tags: PV

Visit: www1.eere.energy.gov

Visit: www.nrel.gov

Join Semiconductor Today's group on LinkedIn

See Latest IssueRSS Feed