DOE announces $107 million in funding for solar technologies

Following on the recent appointment of solar industry veteran Dr. Charlie Gay as the permanent head of the SunShot Initiative, today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $42 million in awards for 40 projects across the Research and Development and Technology to Market programs.

Additionally, DOE plans to make $65 million, subject to appropriations, available to fund upcoming solar R&D projects.

DOE notes that among the original goal of SunShot was to bring utility-scale solar PV down to $0.06 per watt without incentives by 2020. In a tacit acknowledgement that this goal has essentially been met four years early, DOE states that the projects announced today “aim to reach costs well below that threshold”.

Of 19 awards totaling $17 million under the Research and Development Program, all but three are supporting projects at universities, with four awards totaling $3.75 million going to Arizona State University alone. These projects mostly focus on different aspects of PV cell and module technologies, with three awardees focused on integrated back contact (IBC) crystalline silicon architecture, and another five working on improving various thin-film technologies.

The larger portion, at $25 million, is destined for the Technology to Market program, with 21 awardees including some of the biggest U.S. manufacturers in the solar value chain, such as ABB, SolarWorld and Suniva. Here the awards run a gamut of applications from epitaxial wafers to do-it-yourself residential PV systems to community solar.

DOE says that is plans to make the additional $65 million – subject to appropriation – available later this year. The agency plans awards across three programs, with $25 million for the PV Research and Development Program, $30 million under Technology to Market and the remaining $10 million under Systems Integration Program.