The Biden administration, through the Department of Energy, just announced $82 million in funding for domestic solar production and distribution.
Of that, $52 million, which includes $10 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, goes to 19 different projects “to strengthen America’s domestic solar supply chain,” according to a DOE press release. Another $30 million is for “funding for technologies that will help integrate solar energy into the grid.”
“The research, development, and demonstration projects aim to enhance domestic solar manufacturing, support the recycling of solar panels, and develop new American-made solar technologies,” the release said. “Additionally, this significant investment will help promote cheaper, more efficient solar cells and advance cadmium telluride (CdTe) and perovskite solar manufacturing—two technologies vital to diversifying the solar supply chain.”
The BIL funding involves selecting eight projects that could help reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of solar panel recycling.
“Modules designed for recycling will increase the percentage of materials that can be recovered during the recycling process and re-sold into the market. Increasing the amount of recovered materials such as silver and copper means these materials can contribute to the domestic supply chain.”
Competing are Electroninks Incorporated, Locusview, Solarcycle, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Kansas. First Solar and Toledo Solar, both in Perrysburg, Ohio, are working on manufacturing photovoltaic cells and panels using cadmium telluride (CdTe) technology.
BREK Electronics, Guardian Devices, LITESPEED Energy, Makai Ocean Engineering, Mirai Solar, Mission Drives Corp, and Vitro Flat Glass are getting money to bring solar solutions to the prototype stage, a part of determining if an idea is commercially viable.
MIT and the University of Colorado together split $18 million for work on perovskites, a “promising next-generation technology with the potential for quicker production compared to crystalline silicon cells” that could help scale domestic production.
The $30 million portion is for “projects that address emerging challenges for grid planning operators and engineers to plan the future of the electric power grid and maintain its daily reliable operation.”
Separately, the DOE announced selection of 25 teams to compete for a total of up to $10 million in through the American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize originally launched January 2023. There are three phases of competition. The 25 teams each win $50,000 and advance to the next phase. In that part, competitors can each win up to $200,000. In the third phase, competitors can each win up to $150,000.