Building off SunShot Initiative investments in concentrating solar power announced earlier this week, the Energy Department has announced five new research projects to accelerate innovations that could lower the cost of photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies. These investments will enable collaborative research teams from industry, universities, and national laboratories to work together at the Department’s Scientific User Facilities, a national network of unique facilities that provide over 10,000 scientists and engineers each year with open access to some of the best instruments and tools in the world, including x-ray sources, accelerators, supercomputers and nanoscale research centers.
“The past decade has seen explosive growth in the global solar energy market. American companies are helping to lead this dramatic progress – driving lower costs and introducing new, better performing technologies into the marketplace. These collaborative projects announced today harness the immense capabilities of our Scientific User Facilities to invent and deploy new technologies that will strengthen American manufacturing and technical competitiveness,” said Secretary Chu. “As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, advanced solar energy technologies are helping to provide clean, renewable electricity for homes and businesses across the country while diversifying the United States’ energy economy.”
The five research projects selected fall under two levels, including:
Establishing Scientific User Facility research partnerships
Under this level, two projects have been awarded a total of $900,000 to establish research partnerships and carry out research using existing tools at Energy Department Scientific User Facilities. Based in Berkeley, California, PLANT PV will partner with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Molecular Foundry to develop 3D mapping tools for higher performing thin film solar material. The University of Colorado will use tools at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to research high-temperature inexpensive materials for concentrating solar power technologies.
Developing a new Scientific User Facility instrument
At this stage, three projects, totaling a $2.6 million investment, have been selected to establish full research programs at a Scientific User Facility that will result in new tool development, expanding the capability of each facility to conduct advanced solar energy research. Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories will partner with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies in New Mexico to improve the efficiency of thin film photovoltaic materials, while Arizona State University will use x-ray technologies at Argonne National Laboratory to address solar cell material performance. Additionally, Stanford University will partner with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to research inexpensive ways to print solar cells.