Author: US DOE Staff    Published: 4/21/2023     DOE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office

FY22 Solar Manufacturing Incubator Funding Program

On April 20, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced $24 million for research, development, and demonstration projects to spur innovation in domestic solar manufacturing, in particular to advance cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) technologies. 9 projects in 7 states will help boost the solar supply chain, make solar cells cheaper and more efficient, and develop new solar technologies that can be made in America.

The Solar Manufacturing Incubator funding program seeks to invest in innovative research, development, and demonstration projects that enable continued solar cost reductions, while developing next-generation solar technologies and boosting American solar manufacturing.

Two projects make significant investments in advancing CdTe solar manufacturing – a thin-film technology that can diversity the solar supply chain. Seven additional projects will de-risk new technologies and manufacturing processes, bringing the solutions to the prototype stage, and on the path to commercial success. The selected projects are:

  • BREK Electronics (Broomfield, CO): This team is developing a new inverter technology based on a silicon carbide transistor and high frequency planar magnetics that can significantly lower the cost and size of grid-tied inverters. (Award Amount: $500,000)
  • First Solar (Perrysburg, OH): This project will develop a tandem module combining CdTe and silicon—a new residential rooftop product that is more efficient than silicon or thin-film modules on the market today. (Award Amount: $7.3 million)
  • Guardian Devices (Albuquerque, NM): This team will produce self-extinguishing PV connectors that will prevent fires in PV systems. (Award Amount: $900,000)
  • LITESPEED Energy (Livermore, CA): This project will improve modules for floating PV systems, making them more resilient to wind and waves. (Award Amount: $1.6 million)
  • Makai Ocean Engineering (Waimanalo, HI): This project aims to de-risk an innovative heat exchange for use in Generation 3 concentrating solar-thermal power systems. (Award Amount: $600,000)
  • Mirai Solar (Mountainview, CA): This project will further develop and commercialize a foldable PV solar screen with variable shading and output power for controlled environment greenhouses. (Award Amount: $1.4 million)
  • Mission Drives Corp (Potsdam, NY): Mission Drives is developing an inverter to switch electricity input 100 times faster than conventional products using silicon carbide and gallium nitride wide bandgap components. (Award Amount: $1.2 million)
  • Toledo Solar (Perrsyburg, OH): This project will demonstrate the application of semitransparent CdTe solar panels to windows, addressing a new market for thin-film solar devices. (Award Amount: $8.7 million)
  • Vitro Flat Glass (Cheswick, PA): This team will improve the power output of CdTe modules through a high-performance superstrate, which is the glass on which a solar module is built. (Award Amount: $1.6 million)

With this round of selections, SETO’s manufacturing and competitiveness subprogram is looking to fund larger industrial research and demonstration awards to accelerate de-risking and commercialization of innovative technologies. These investments will grow the clean energy economy and help achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a decarbonized grid by 2035.

Learn more about SETO manufacturing and competitiveness research and read the new white paper on potential pathways to a resilient solar supply chain.