This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
DOE Funds Project to Cut Manufacturing Costs for Solar Cells
DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) awarded a subcontract on May 8th to Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD) for the development of new solar cell manufacturing technology. The research project will concentrate on developing online diagnostic systems, closed-loop control, and continuous online optimization of a solar cell manufacturing line large enough to produce 30 megawatts of solar cells each year. Manufacturing lines built with the new technology will have more rapid start-up and commissioning, higher yields, and lower production costs. NREL will contribute about $3 million toward the $6-million, three-year subcontract, with ECD providing the balance of the funds. United Solar Systems, an ECD subsidiary, currently operates the world's only advanced production machine for manufacturing thin-film amorphous-silicon solar cells. See the DOE press release.
The project is part of DOE's Photovoltaics Manufacturing Initiative, known as PVMat. PVMat's goal is to improve photovoltaic manufacturing processes and products, while reducing manufacturing costs and developing technologies that support large-scale manufacturing of solar cells. See the PVMat project on the NREL Web site.