On Monday the Department of Energy announced that they were awarding a total of $17.6 million in grant money to six new second generation photovoltaic startups. The money is expected to be met by roughly another $17 million in cost share from the PV industry itself, totaling a little over $35 million going towards the projects. The idea, obviously, is to foster new technologies that could make PV electricity cost competitive - one giant step towards energy independence.
So let’s meet the companies who found favor in the DOE’s eyes:
1366 Solar of Lexington, MA
- Uses muli-crystalline silicon, which is cheaper than single-crystalline silicon (the latter has to be grown slowly and delicately while the latter is simple melted down and cast into a mold)
- Cell material is designed with a special grooved texture which traps light into the cell and boosts efficiency to 19%.
Innovalight of Sunnyvale, CA
- Uses “silicon ink” to print solar cells and modules onto thin silicon substrates, a technology which makes manufacturing simpler and cheaper
Skyline Solar of Mountain View, CA
- Concentrated solar technology mounted on a system that tracks and follows the sun
- Technology is compatible with the existing silicon PV industry, but uses less silicon
- 15% efficiency (when considering the active cell area)
Solasta of Newton, MA
- Cells made with amporphous “nanocoax” material, which shortens the distance that electrons have to travel between the PV materials and the conducting wires, thereby improving efficiency
Solexel of Milpitas, CA
- Single-crystalline cells that will be cheap to produce, will use minimal amounts of material and will offer up to 19% efficiency
Spire Semiconductor of Hudson, NH
- Cells are three-junction tandem, which means that there are three layers, each of which absorbs light of different wavelengths.
- Instead of stacking the layers on top of one another, Spire is developing a new, more efficient structure
- Target efficiency of over 42%
Via the DOE
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