DOE awards 3M $4.4 million to reduce cost of photovoltaic energy

St. Paul, Minn., March 23, 2011 — The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded 3M $4.4 million as part of DOE's SunShot Initiative.

SunShot aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent, so that they are cost-competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies.

SunShot calls for achieving this goal by the end of the decade. The sum of the 3M award is estimated at $4.4 million over three years.

The goal of 3M's project is to accelerate efforts toward further development and commercialization of 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film. The funding will support a robust reliability test program to validate the lifetime performance of 3M's film as well as development of second-generation 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film with enhanced performance and reduced costs.

As part of the initiative, 3M will collaborate with DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory located near Denver, Colorado, to test the performance and durability of Ultra Barrier Solar Films. NREL recently confirmed moisture vapor transmission rates in the range of 2*10-5 - 8*10-5 g/m2/day for 3M's current Ultra Barrier Film 9L product using its electrically based calcium moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) test.

Designed to address the needs of flexible thin film solar manufacturers, 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film acts as a replacement for glass with high light transmission, superb moisture barrier performance, and excellent weatherability. Compared with glass-glass modules, large area, light weight flexible PV modules manufactured with 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film can achieve lower balance of systems (BOS) costs by requiring less installation time, removing the need for metal racking, and reducing logistics expenditures.

3M Ultra Barrier Film also enables lower module manufacturing costs by allowing manufacturers to commercialize large area modules, effectively reducing fixed costs associated with module manufacturing, assembled in a continuous roll-to-roll process.

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