Silfab receives funds to develop U.S.-made back-contact N-type solar cells


In recent weeks the U.S. government has announced loans and funding to bolster its domestic solar supply chain, which will also secure jobs, stimulate local economies and support national security interests.

Most recently the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $71 million investment, including $16 million from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for research and development projects that seek to address early gaps in the solar supply chain. Silfab Solar is one of seven awardees of funding for projects that are intended to advance dual-use PV technologies to electrify buildings, decarbonize the transportation sector and reduce land-use conflicts.

Silfab Solar, a Toronto-headquartered solar cell and module manufacturer with a facility in South Carolina, was awarded $5 million for a project that will develop back-contact N-type cells to demonstrate efficiencies of 26% or better.

Silfab is developing these cells on a 300 MW pilot line, which will operate alongside Silfab’s main N-type cell manufacturing at its South Carolina facility. The company reports that the project will enable rapid scale-up of cost effective, back-contact cell technology into high-volume manufacturing of its next line of solar modules.

The company announced last September that it was investing $150 million in a cell manufacturing site in a 785,000 square foot facility in York County, South Carolina facility that is expected to have an annual capacity of 1 GW of cell production and 1.2 GW of module production. Expected to bring 850 jobs to the area, the project was awarded a $2 million Set-Aside grant by the Coordinating Council for Economic Development in York County.

The DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) also selected Silfab for a separate innovation award to further develop high efficiency building-integrated PV (BIPV) modules. These modules have opaque glass and can be used in the glazed surfaces between the floors of commercial buildings where transparent glass windows are not needed. The $500,000 project will be demonstrated at Silfab’s plant in Washington.

“Silfab Solar is leading the way in U.S. integration of innovative solar cells and modules by investing in the research and development that allows us to deliver the most advanced, powerful and reliable PV solar for commercial, residential and soon, BIPV customers,” said Paolo Maccario, Silfab President and CEO. “The DOE awards are a testament to Silfab’s commitment to innovation and to the strength of our engineering team to deliver significant advancements in solar technologies.”

The SETO program requires that its beneficiaries provide community benefits in the project locations. To that end, Silfab has begun several efforts including a series of workforce development initiatives and school outreach programs to encourage youth to consider careers in renewable energy.

(Read more about onshoring U.S. solar manufacturing here.)

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