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Department of Energy to Invest $50 Million to Advance Domestic Solar Manufacturing Market, Achieve SunShot Goal

August 2, 2011

SUNPATH Program Will Boost American Competitiveness, Lower Cost of Solar Energy

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today 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 (PVMI) supporting the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative.

"This investment provides a necessary boost to domestic solar manufacturing businesses, encouraging them to keep jobs here and establish America's leadership in the world's growing clean energy economy," said Secretary Chu. "In addition to invigorating clean energy manufacturing, this program will help achieve the SunShot goal of making unsubsidized utility-scale solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade."

As recently as 1995, the United States maintained a dominant global solar market share, manufacturing 43% of the world's PV panels. In steady decline, U.S. market share shrank to 27% by 2000 and to 7% by 2010. SUNPATH will help return the United States to the forefront, driving innovation and assuring continued leadership in the 21st century clean energy economy.

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 United States.

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 United States.

The Department of Energy 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. More information and application requirements can be found at the Funding Opportunity Exchange (FOA number DE-FOA-0000566).

For more information on the SunShot Initiative, visit energy.gov/sunshot.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.