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Next Generation Solar Research to get $21million from Department of Energy

Published on November 27, 2007 at 11:45 AM

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that the Department will invest $21.7 million in next generation photovoltaic (PV) technology to help accelerate the widespread use of advanced solar power.  The 25 projects that DOE selected as part of this Funding Opportunity Announcement, Next Generation Photovoltaic Devices & Processes, are an integral part of the President's Solar America Initiative, which aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity by 2015.

"These projects help create a pipeline for the development of next generation solar technology," Secretary Bodman said.  "Our goal is to make solar power become a more mainstream source of energy - to increase energy security and so America maintains its competitive edge.  With a continued commitment from this Administration to develop and deploy clean, cutting-edge technologies, the Department is helping change the landscape for how this Nation utilizes its resources and produces energy."

Projects selected represent an important early-stage investment from DOE in advanced PV (solar electricity) technologies, which will help drive U.S. industry competitiveness.  These new solar technologies have the potential to produce electricity at costs well below the current costs of grid-supplied electricity.  The device and manufacturing process research, which will be used by the selected projects, is expected to produce prototype cells and/or processes by 2015, with the potential for full commercialization shortly thereafter.

The 25 projects were selected competitively from a large and diverse pool of applicants, demonstrating the growing enthusiasm for PV technology.  The projects will be implemented at 15 universities and 6 companies; each award averages $900,000 from DOE over three years (Fiscal Years 2008 - 2010).  DOE will provide up to $21.7 million in funding, subject to final project negotiations and Congressional appropriations. With cost-sharing, the total investment in research will be up to $30.3 million.

As part of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, the Solar America Initiative aims to diversify our Nation's energy resources by spurring widespread commercialization and deployment of clean solar energy technologies, which will help to provide long-term economic, environmental, and security benefits to our nation.

The following projects were selected for negotiation of three-year project awards:

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
This project will seek to increase efficiency levels to 20% by developing new materials to improve tandem thin film solar cells.  DOE will provide up to $895,511 for the $1.1 million project. Arizona State University was selected for another project, in which researchers will demonstrate the fundamental viability of replacing expensive materials used in today's solar cells with less costly alternatives.  DOE will provide up to $881,152 for the $1.2 million project.

California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
This project will seek to enhance solar absorption using plasmons to improve the performance of PV cells. DOE will provide up to $900,000 for the $1.1 million project.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
This project will seek to boost the performance of conventional solar cells through the addition of a new layer tuned to use a previously wasted portion of the sun's energy.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for the $1.1 million project. MIT was selected for another project, in which researchers will explore a silicon wafer-making technology that will set new standards of electronic quality and low cost.  DOE will provide up to $899,998 for the $1.1 million project.

Mayaterials, Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI)
This project will seek to derive solar grade silicon from agricultural by-products.  DOE will provide up to $837,000 for the $1 million project.

Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA)
Penn State will seek to apply lessons learned from success with lithium ion batteries to develop dye-based sensitized solar cells with improved electrodes and electrolytes.  DOE will provide up to $882,103 for the $1.1 million project. Penn State was selected for a second project, in which researchers will create PV devices from nanowires grown on inexpensive substrates like glass. DOE will provide up to $900,000 for the $1.1 million project.

Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
This project will develop PV cells for solar concentrator applications using high efficiency nanostructures. DOE will provide up to $843,695 for the $1.1 million project.

Solasta, Inc. (Newton, MA)
Solasta will seek to develop high efficiency solar power by separating the path traveled by light from the path traveled by electrons using nanostructures.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for this $1.8 million project.

Solexant, Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA)
Solexant will seek to dramatically improve photovoltaics through inexpensive inorganic PV cell that harvest more than the conventional limit of maximum power efficiency.  DOE will provide up to $869,435 of the $1.1 million project.

Soltaix, Inc. (Los Altos, CA)
Soltaix will seek to demonstrate and optimize an ultra-high-efficiency, thin-film, crystalline solar cell for cost-effective, grid-connected electricity.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for this $1.8 million project.

Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
Stanford will use nanowire networks or meshes to create electrodes for high efficiency, low cost solution-processed photovoltaics.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for this $1.1 million project. Stanford was also selected for a second project, in which researchers will produce advanced, higher efficiency thin-film solar cells from nanowires made of CIGS.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for this $1.1 million project.

University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
UC Davis will develop organic photovoltaics, prepared with sequential solution processing, to produce multiple-layer polymer films.  DOE will provide up to $610,916 for this $0.8 million project.

University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA)
This project will seek to produce high-efficiency photovoltaics that combine plasmonics and semiconductor nanostructures.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for this $1.1 million project.

University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)
Using dye molecules to produce multiple electrons from one photon of light, researchers for this project will demonstrate an ultra-high efficiency, low cost solar cell.  DOE will provide up to $895,772 for this $1.1 million project.

University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
The project will use laser processing to control defects and improve PV cell performance to develop a highly efficient wide bandgap in thin films, which is necessary for low cost polycrystalline tandem devices.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for this $1.1 million project.

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
This project will seek to create solution processible, low cost tandem photovoltaics from inorganic nanorods (aligned for efficient energy collection) surrounded by organic polymers.  DOE will provide up to $900,000 for his $1.1 million project.

University of Illinois (Urbana, IL)
This project will seek a low cost concentrator PV from automated printing and the interconnection of a large number of microcells with built-in optic

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