WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of 24 projects to research, develop, and design new manufacturing and product improvements that could cut costs for a substantial segment of the solar photovoltaic industry. The competitively-selected projects will be eligible for a total of up to $22 million in Recovery Act funds, which will be matched by more than $50 million in cost-shared funding from private partners.

The projects include new manufacturing processes, films, and coatings for solar photovoltaic devices; monitoring devices that can be used to control the manufacturing process or for quality control; and entire solar power systems. The projects also include efforts to recycle scraps of solar-grade silicon produced during manufacturing, employ an ion beam to reduce the reflectance of solar modules, increase the light absorption of a solar cell by creating pits on its surface with a laser, trap light within thin crystalline silicon solar cells using diffraction gratings, and develop materials that “downshift” high-energy ultraviolet light to a lower-energy light that can be efficiently converted into electricity in a solar cell.

DOE also announced plans to offer up to $27 million to develop solar installation training. DOE will fund this effort using $5 million from the Recovery Act, as well as $22 million in annual appropriations. Funding will go to:

• A single national organization that will facilitate the development and distribution of model training curricula, best practices in training, and information on solar career pathways; and

• A select number of regional training centers that will offer solar instructors advanced courses on solar technologies, instructional design, and course development.

This initiative is intended to ensure that a trained workforce is ready to support growth in solar energy.

Publication date: 07/13/2009