This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
DOE Invests $21 Million in Next-Generation Solar Cell Research
DOE announced on November 8th that it will invest $21.7 million in researching the next generation of photovoltaic (PV) solar cell technology. DOE selected a total of 25 research projects, led by 15 universities and 6 companies, to receive an average of $900,000 over the next three years. The research projects will employ nanotechnologies, dyes, organic solar cells, multiple-layer solar cells, and unique manufacturing techniques in their attempts to create the next generation of solar cells. By 2015, the effort is expected to yield prototype cells and processes, which may be available for commercialization shortly thereafter. See the DOE press release and the "Future Generation Photovoltaic Devices and Processes Selections" presentation on the Solar America Initiative Web site (PDF 2.2 MB). Download Adobe Reader.
Among the DOE awardees is Wakonda Technologies Inc., a company that plans to produce large-area, high-efficiency solar devices by applying multiple thin films of semiconductor material onto a flexible metal-foil substrate. Wakonda Technologies claims to have developed a proprietary surface treatment that allows the metal foil to simulate an expensive crystalline semiconductor material, such as germanium. The company plans to exploit this technology with a process that employs low-cost thin-film manufacturing techniques to create high-efficiency solar cells.
November 8th was a good day for Wakonda Technologies; on the same day that DOE announced its advanced PV awards, the company was named the Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year at the 20th Industry Growth Forum, sponsored by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL's Industry Growth Forum is the leading clean energy venture event in the United States, and it attracted more than 400 participants this year. The forum is unique in the real-time feedback and strategic advice its panel offers to its entrepreneurial participants. To claim the Entrepreneur of the Year award, Wakonda Technologies beat out 31 competitors, earning a prize of $10,000. See the NREL press release and the Wakonda Technologies Web site.