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U.S. Department of Energy Announces $71 Million Investment to Advance Solar Manufacturing and Development

published: 2024-05-20 15:29

On May 17, 2024, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $71 million investment in research, development, and demonstration projects to expand local manufacturing in the U.S. PV supply chain.

With the doubling of tariff rates on Chinese PV products in the 301 investigation and the imminent termination of tariff exemptions for Southeast Asian imports of PV products (June 6), the U.S. will have to face a severe supply shortage of PV products.

As a result, the project selected by the U.S. White House will address capacity gaps in its domestic solar manufacturing supply chain, including photovoltaic  equipment, silicon ingots and wafers, and both silicon and thin-film solar cell manufacturing. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm believes that through this historic grant and initiative, the U.S. will be able to deploy more solar energy - the cheapest form of energy - to Americans through components labeled “Made in the USA.”

The first half of the U.S. Secretary of Energy's statement may be possible under the U.S. government's huge subsidies, but the second half of the sentence, “the cheapest energy”, may not be taken seriously. Even in the subsidies can be cheap enough, that is also relative to the United States local First Solar manufacturing cadmium telluride thin film photovoltaic products, and at present, cadmium telluride thin film photovoltaic module cost is obviously China crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, or more than twice.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected three projects for the Crystalline Silicon Solar Manufacturing Funding Program, which includes support for the development of technologies for the indigenous manufacturing of silicon wafers and cells to accelerate their commercialization. The selected projects are:

  • Silfab Solar Cells (Fort Mill, SC): $5 million
  • Silfab Solar WA (Bellingham, WA): $400,000
  • Ubiquity Solar (Hazelwood, MO): $11.2 million

In addition, seven projects will advance dual-use PV technologies to harness their potential for electrifying buildings, decarbonizing the transportation sector and reducing land use conflicts.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. also explicitly supports future PV technologies - perovskite and stacked cell projects (including crystalline silicon stacks and CIGS stacks, etc.), with a total of four projects receiving support:

  • Cubic PV (Bedford, MA): $6 million
  • Tandem PV (San Jose, CA): $4.7 million
  • First Solar (Tempe, AZ and Perrysburg, OH): $15 million
  • Swift Solar (San Carlos, CA): $7 million

Surprisingly, the U.S. continues to support cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film PV technology, citing potential advantages over the currently dominant silicon technology, such as less energy-intensive manufacturing, lower manufacturing costs, simpler supply chain, and greater lifetime energy yield. 

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected four projects to advance the U.S. thin-film solar PV financing program:

  • 5N Plus (Montreal, Canada): $1.6 million
  • First Solar (Tempe, AZ and Perrysburg, OH): $15 million
  • Brightspot Automation (Boulder, CO): $1.6 million
  • Tau Science (Redwood City, CA): $2.1 million 

Source: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/DyEf7MzAeTf-WO6ykpykxQ

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