Energy Department Backs Collaborative Solar Energy Projects

September 5, 2012

The Energy Department on August 29 announced a $4.4 million investment in five new research projects to accelerate innovations that could lower the cost of photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power technologies. These investments will enable teams from industry, universities, and the Energy Department's national laboratories to collaborate 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 five research projects selected fall under two levels: establishing Scientific User Facility research partnerships and developing a new Scientific User Facility instrument. Under the first level, two projects have been awarded a total of $900,000 to establish research partnerships and carry out research using existing tools. 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. And the University of Colorado will use tools at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to research high-temperature inexpensive materials for concentrating solar power technologies.

Also, three projects totaling a $2.6 million investment have been selected to establish full research programs at a Scientific User Facility. These programs 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 PV 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. See the Energy Department press release and the complete list of projects PDF.