SAN JOSE, Calif. - Several fab tool and materials firms have recieved awards from the U.S. Department of Energy's "SunShot" initiative.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced additional details of the Department of Energy's "SunShot" initiative to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent so that they are cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies before the end of the decade.
By reducing the cost for utility scale installations by about 75 percent to roughly $1 a watt—which would correspond to roughly 6 cents per kilowatt-hour—solar energy systems could be broadly deployed across the country.
The question is whether the program will work? The DOE's approach consists of 2 to 3 years of "horizontal" research and development (R&D) work focused on reducing PV modules, power electronics, and balance-of-system (BOS) costs. This will be followed by 2 to 3 years of intense "vertically integrated" systems-level demonstration projects that will demonstrate the commercial viability of the $1 per watt approach.
In any case, the projects include the following awards:
*1366 Technologies has been awarded $3 million. The goal of this project is to further develop a new, manufacturing process that dramatically reduces the cost of producing silicon wafers for use in silicon PV modules. The company's direct Wafer process delivers improvements in manufacturing efficiency since it does not require sawing individual wafers from blocks of silicon.
*3M has been awarded $4.4 million. The goal of this project is to develop and commercialize a flexible, highly transparent ultra barrier topsheet that will enable successful commercialization of flexible photovoltaic modules.
*PPG has been awarded $3.1 million. The goal of this project is to develop the materials, coating designs, and manufacturing processes necessary to commercialize a new glass article for the Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) module manufacturing industry.
*Varian Semiconductor has been awarded $4.8 million. The goal of this project is to reduce the cost of manufacturing interdigitated back contact cells, the most efficient silicon solar cells on the market.
*Veecco Instruments Inc. has been awarded $4.8 million by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate the research and development and commercialization of its copper, indium, gallium, selenium (CIGS) deposition systems.
As part of the Department's commitment to support solar energy technologies, DOE is investing up to $7 million to fund the latest round of is Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Incubator Program.
The Tier I projects are as follows:
*Caelux is developing a flexible solar cell manufacturing process and design that minimizes the amount of semiconducting material used. This has the potential to significantly improve device efficiency while dramatically reducing production costs.
*Solexant is developing a new thin film material from substances that are non-toxic and not rare. These devices will be constructed with a nanoparticle ink that can be printed and will result in commercially viable efficiencies using scalable, low cost processes.
*Stion is developing a thin film technology that will allow two high-efficiency thin film solar devices to be stacked, allowing for much better absorption of light and power generation. The device is constructed in a way that significantly reduces cost, simplifies manufacturing and reduces materials utilization over traditional designs.
The Tier II projects are as follows:
*Crystal Solar s 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 solution uses much less silicon, eliminates many of the wasteful and expensive wafer processing steps and addresses the problem of handling very thin wafers.
With all due respect, if you stopped YELLING and listened to what you yourself are saying, you're complaining that the amount spent on the research is too small and then complain that the President shouldn't be spending it in the first place? Why is it even a presidential politics issue? Don't we have to invest in R&D, both on the industrial and government sides?
Seems to me there's a problem with the approach of subsidising R&D. Won't the resultant Intellectual Property just be stolen by China (Red Army, Inc) -- yielding no net advantage to the US?
How about susidizing US Solar manufacturing (&jobs) instead? Isn't the idea to get to those
"economies of scale" ASAP?
Also, isn't the key developing systems for rooftop Solar installation for new home & manufactured-housing (mobil home)construction? Homeowner tax incentives would seem to me the obvious route.
The news is encouraging. The success of the future relies on alternative energy sources. Solar energy will be one of the many technologies that can bring human to the future. As the DoE is willing to grant so much money is already a good news to encourage future growth in this area. I am sure either government or private sector will inject more money if encouraging results are shown in the next couple of years. This is the common practice of product development and investment, isn't it?
The costs of components within a solar generation system need to be lowered. Running a simple calculator and accounting for inflation shows the payback for installation to be several years. The ROI needs to be better if this technology is to prosper.
to calculate your scenario.
This is a lost battle - China holds the ace and the keg. There seems to be no way to drive this innovation when we do not even have ways to fund education. The money US brings is too small to compete with China.
R&D funding is good, but the premise here is flawed.
Solar cells are already well under $1/Watt ex factory, but they are a decreasing fraction of the cost of a Full install.
Inverters are ~50c/watt and falling more slowly, and it is the construction/site assembly/funding that is now the main cost-centre.
All boring, and low-tech, so R&D into the finer points of Solar PV processes, is not going to do much lower Utility costs.
This is a hoot! Microsoft's annual statement said they spent about 2.5 BILLION just on LEGAL SETTLEMENTS (for stealing other companys' and individuals' intellectual property) last year. 2.5 BILLION is 2500 MILLION for legal settlements in ONE YEAR!!! Barak and Michelle spend the amounts you've listed here on caviar and lobster or renting out the Taj Mahal for one of their innumerable vacations. What has happened when engineers have no sense of scale or proportion and parrot these government assertions with no critical thinking? Sad very sad. And any comment on where the money is coming from? Daily EETimes is publishing articles about Barak Hussein Obama is promising to spend millions or billions on this or that. ITS NOT BARAK HUSSEIN OBAMA'S MONEY. ITS OUR MONEY!