Delaware Delegation Announces Awards to University of Delaware for Advanced Solar Technologies

DOE SunShot Initiative Accelerates Development of Cost-Competitive Solar Energy Systems

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney (all D-Del.) announced more than $7 million in awards to the University of Delaware to help accelerate research and development to increase efficiency, lower costs and advance solar energy technologies. The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative improves the way solar energy systems are conceived, designed, manufactured, and installed and encourages rapid, widespread adoption of solar energy systems across the United States.

The SunShot Initiative seeks to make solar energy systems more cost-competitive and efficient and without long-term subsidies, by reducing the cost of these systems about 75 percent by the end of the decade. It will also improve materials, manufacturing processes and supply chains for a wide range of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and components of solar energy systems. Some of these investments also support efforts that will shorten the overall timeline from prototype to production and streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules and business processes for installing solar energy systems.

The University of Delaware led five of 69 winning projects for the SunShot Initiative in the categories of “Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency” and “Transformational PV Science and Technology:”

Advance Cell Efficiency: $3,300,000
Project will research high-efficiency, silicon-based PV cells using thin-silicon wafers produced via high-speed laser processing. Increasing the speed of production, or throughput, will reduce the cost of the PV cell.

Advance Cell Efficiency: $1,167,147
Project will research ultra-thin, CIGS PV cells based on a superstrate design. An improved superstrate (i.e., the layer on the sun-facing side of the cell) will allow the maximum transition of the sun’s energy into the cell and increase its efficiency.

Advance Cell Efficiency: $1,200,000
Project will advance processing technologies in CIGS PV. These advances will create improvements in manufacturing and increase solar cell efficiency.

Advance Cell Efficiency: $960,000
Project will research the effects of sodium in CIGS PV cells.

Next Gen PV II: $1,278,110
Project will develop new low-symmetry gratings for next-generation, thin crystalline silicon and CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) PV cells.

“America must stay competitive in order to move toward a clean energy future for the sake of our environment and health, as well as for the strength of our economy,” said Sen. Carper. “Advancements in solar energy and other renewable energy technologies reduce harmful pollutants, lead to healthier lives, lower our energy costs, and create American jobs that produce clean energy equipment stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ to sell here and export around the world. I congratulate the University of Delaware on its awards and I am proud that Delaware researchers are leading the way in the development of cutting-edge energy technologies that will help clean our air and keep America competitive in a 21st century global economy.”

“I’m proud that, once again, the University of Delaware has shown why it is a national leader in solar energy technology development,” said Sen. Coons. “Solar power has the potential to play a starring role in our efforts to reduce our nation’s reliance on foreign oil and to redirect our country’s energy consumption to renewable sources. These grants will help Delaware continue its leadership role in energy research by helping local scientists develop cutting-edge solar technology. These projects will help our nation make further progress in this promising field.”

“We need to make things in America again, and emerging opportunities in green energy are critical to putting people back to work while protecting the environment,” said Rep. Carney. “Delaware is positioned to be a national leader in these efforts because of strong partnerships among private businesses, government, and our higher education institutions. The University of Delaware has been on the forefront of advancing fuel cell technology, and this investment will help UD continue its research on making solar energy efficient and affordable for U.S. businesses and residents.”

The awards, which total $148 million in 24 different states, will target improvements across the research, development, and demonstration pipeline, from next generation technologies 7 to ten years away from commercial readiness, to scientific and technological improvements which can be rapidly implemented within 5 years. The programs will create entirely new and more economical approaches to collecting solar energy and tackle fundamental challenges to ramp up use of these renewable energy technologies.

The six categories of SunShot Initiative projects are:

Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reductions – Nine projects to receive $42.4 million.

These projects will conduct research and development of new balance of system (BOS) hardware — including power inverters and mounting racks but excluding solar panels or cells — that is inexpensive, safe, and highly reliable. BOS accounts for more than 40 percent of the total installed cost of solar energy systems and represents a major opportunity to achieve significant cost reductions.

Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency – 18 projects to receive $35.8 million.

Combining both the technical and funding resources of U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, this joint program will support research that aims to eliminate the significant gap between the efficiencies of prototype cells achieved in the laboratory and the efficiencies of cells produced on manufacturing lines. The projects under this award address cost and efficiency barriers, advance fundamental PV cell research, and develop materials and processes for more efficient, cost-effective photovoltaic cells.

Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems: Advanced Concepts – Eight projects to receive $25.9 million.

These projects will develop electronics and build smarter, more interactive systems and components so that solar energy can be integrated into the electric power distribution and transmission grid at higher levels. These technologies will help advance a smart grid that will handle two-way flows of power and communication, in contrast to the one-way power flow and limited communication that exists today.

Transformational PV Science and Technology: Next Generation Photovoltaics II – 23 projects to receive $24.5 million.

These awards will fund applied research into technologies that greatly increase efficiency, lower costs, create secure and sustainable supply chains and perform more reliably than the current PV technologies. Investing in new classes of photovoltaic technology feeds the industry with the new innovations it will need to compete in the future and will help achieve the goals of the Sunshot Initiative.

Reducing Market Barriers and Non-Hardware Balance of System Costs – Seven projects to receive $13.6 million.

These awards will provide funding to create tools and develop methods to reduce the cost of non-hardware components for installed solar energy systems. These projects will develop software design tools and databases that can be used by local jurisdictions and installers, and tools to streamline building codes, zoning laws, permitting rules, and business processes for installing solar systems.

SunShot Incubator – Four projects to receive $5.8 million.

These projects will fund two different tiers of transformational projects. The first accelerates development of new technologies from concept to commercial viability. The second level of funding supports efforts that shorten the overall timeline from laboratory scale development to pilot line manufacture. The SunShot Incubator Program is an expansion of DOE’s successful PV Technology Incubator Program, launched in 2007, which to date has funded $60 million in projects that have been leveraged into $1.3 billion in private investment.