DOE to invest $50 million to advance solar manufacturing

Washington D.C., August 3, 2011 — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $50 million investment over two years for the SUNPATH program, aimed to help the nation reclaim its competitive edge in solar manufacturing.

SUNPATH, which stands for Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home, represents the second solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative supporting the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative.

PVMI Part II: SUNPATH seeks to increase domestic manufacturing through investments that have sustainable, competitive cost and performance advantages.

SUNPATH will help companies with pilot-scale commercial production scale up their manufacturing capabilities, enabling them to overcome a funding gap that often curtails domestic business at a critical stage. By bridging this gap, SUNPATH will help ensure that innovative, low-cost solar technologies are manufactured in the U.S.

The PV Manufacturing Initiative accelerates the cost reduction and commercialization of solar technologies by coordinating solutions across industry.

The initiative will help create a robust, domestic PV manufacturing base and develop a workforce with the critical skills required to deliver reliable, affordable, clean energy.

PVMI Part I: Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships has resulted in the selection of $110 million in projects to three industry and academic consortia to enable substantial cost reductions in PV module production.

To ensure that these technologies are manufactured domestically, PVMI Part II: SUNPATH will support an initial ramp up to high volume manufacturing. DOE's national laboratories are stepping up their validation facilities to ensure that the technologies developed and manufactured in Parts I and II are tested at scale in multiple locations and climates in the U.S.

The DOE is seeking applicants with industrial-scale demonstrations of PV modules, cells, or substrates that offer lower-cost solutions in line with the SunShot goal. Applications are due by October 28, 2011.

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