US To Invest $71 Million In Supporting Solar Manufacturing Research

Highlights :

  • DOE selected three projects for the Silicon Solar Manufacturing and Dual-Use Photovoltaics Incubator funding program which will support the development of technologies to bring silicon wafer and cell manufacturing onshore.
US To Invest $71 Million In Supporting Solar Manufacturing Research US To Invest $71 Million In Solar Manufacturing

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a $71 million investment, including $16 million from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in research, development, and demonstration projects to grow the network of domestic manufacturers across the U.S. solar energy supply chain. The selected projects will address gaps in the domestic solar manufacturing capacity for the supply chain including equipment, silicon ingots and wafers, and both silicon and thin-film solar cell manufacturing. The projects will also open new markets for solar technologies such as dual-use photovoltaic (PV) applications, including building-integrated PV and agrivoltaics.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building an American-made solar supply chain that boosts innovation, drives down costs for families, and delivers jobs across the nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. He also added, “Thanks to historic funding and actions from the President’s clean energy agenda, we’re able to deploy more solar power – the cheapest form of energy – to millions more Americans with panels stamped made in the USA.”

Fostering Solar Innovation

DOE selected three projects for the Silicon Solar Manufacturing and Dual-Use Photovoltaics Incubator funding program which will support the development of technologies to bring silicon wafer and cell manufacturing onshore. This investment will enable new solar companies to prove out their technologies with the goal of becoming eligible to apply for capital to scale-up manufacturing, accelerating their path to commercialization. Seven additional projects will advance dual-use PV technologies to harness their potential to electrify buildings, decarbonize the transportation sector, and reduce land-use conflicts.

The ten selected projects are:

  • Re:Build Manufacturing (Nashua, NH): $1.9 million
  • Silfab Solar Cells (Fort Mill, SC): $5 million
  • Ubiquity Solar (Hazelwood, MO): $11.2 million
  • Appalachian Renewable Power (Stewart, OH): $1.6 million
  • GAF Energy (San Jose, CA): $1.6 million
  • Noria Energy Holdings (Sausalito, CA): $1.6 million
  • RCAM Technologies (Boulder, CO): $600,000
  • The R&D Lab (Petaluma, CA): $1 million
  • Silfab Solar WA (Bellingham, WA): $400,000
  • Wabash (Lafayette, IN): $1.6 million

Thin-film PV technologies, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe), and perovskites have potential advantages over the current dominant silicon technology, such as less energy-intensive manufacturing, lower manufacturing costs, simpler supply chains, and greater lifetime energy yield. Of the eight projects DOE selected for the Advancing US Thin-Film Solar Photovoltaics funding program, four will address opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and bolster the supply chain for CdTe systems. DOE’s Solar Photovoltaics Supply Chain Review identified CdTe as an opportunity to expand domestic production of solar panels. Improving the ability to use and recover materials efficiently when building and recycling panels is a promising approach to strengthen domestic CdTe PV competitiveness. Four other projects will prove innovative tandem PV devices that pair established PV technologies like silicon and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) with perovskites, an up-and-coming thin-film PV technology that is nearing market readiness and could be manufactured in the United States. One project leverages the United States’ trade partnership with Canada to increase the supply of tellurium in the United States.

The selected projects are:

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

Much of this US solar PV market growth can be attributed to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This act has multiple aims, including funding green energy projects, lowering healthcare costs, and taxation adjustments. Some of these provisions include Roughly $400 billion of federal funding for green projects, $12 billion to upgrade, repurpose, and replace energy infrastructure, Tax credits to incentivize private investment in the renewable energy sector, and $43 billion in tax credits to lower consumer emissions.

The recent announcement of investment comes amid the tariffs that have been slapped on Chinese manufacturers by the US to rein in the dumping of Chinese produce in the US market and to further push domestic manufacturing. The US has accelerated its shift to green energy thanks to the funding and support provided by the IRA. Additionally, a large portion of these efforts are being made in the manufacturing and production of solar PV. By 2030, it is anticipated that the IRA will have facilitated the building of 2,300 grid-scale battery facilities, 20,000 wind turbines, and 950 million solar panels. Following the IRA, US-based utility-scale clean power projects have received approximately $150 billion in funding; when these projects are finished, the combined clean energy capacity will exceed 96 GW. This is supported by several of the major supply chain segments having more manufacturing capacity.

US President Joe Biden has earlier announced a series of tariffs directed toward Chinese goods, including solar cells. Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, solar cells – whether assembled or not into modules – tariffs will increase from 25% to 50% this year. The move has been explained as a riposte to Chinese efforts to dump produce in the US due to overcapacity in China, and depressing prices below viable limits.

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