The Department of Energy just announced winners of its SunShot Incubator 7 program. In all, the DOE announced $10 million in investments in solar startup projects across the U.S., with San Jose, Cali.-based Stion winning the highest amount of $2 million.
Stoin developed a new tandem copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) module thin-film photovoltaic technology that’s produced prototype modules at 18.8 percent efficiency on full-size CIGS modules. The module consists of mechanically stacked top and bottom modules designed to avoid challenges posed by multi-junction monolithic integration, according to DOE. Stion is working to make its PV modules on available, standardized equipment, which will further bring down the cost of the modules. The Tier 2 grant will help the company transition from prototype to commercial production, in concordance with SunShot’s goal of bringing down the cost of solar.
“We are extremely excited to continue working with DOE to help address America’s critical need for clean, secure sources of energy”, said Chet Farris, Stion president and CEO. “Our progress on the tandem technology demonstrates that thin films can achieve industry-leading efficiencies on a scalable, low-cost production platform.”
The award will allow Stion to continue pilot production of its technology and help it scale-up production of its high-efficiency thin film modules, which are more efficient than other thin-films. For instance, First Solar, the largest U.S. thin-film maker, produced CadTel-based PVs that are around 12.7 percent efficient in November 2012. However, the company has also produced cells up to 17.3 percent efficient.
Stion company started shipping products in March that were based on its single junction CIGS technology. The company said it has also produced commercial modules with efficiencies as high as 15.6 percent.
Stion was one of 10 companies that received awards in this round of the incubator program. Other awardees were: AmberWave, Inc., which received $1 million for its ultra-thin, mono-crystalline silicon that reduces silicon usage by more than 90 percent; Bandgap Engineering, which received $1 million to increase silicon PV by 10 percent by integrating Si nanowire cells into standard processing; Enki Technology, which won $1.5 to improve PV module efficiencies with low-cost anti-reflective and anti-soiling coatings; Infinite Invention, which received $386,462 for its Solar Socket for plugging PV systems between the electric meter and meter case; Princeton Power Systems, which received $1 million for its inverter that regulates DC power from PV strings to 13.8kV AC without a grid side transformer; Qado Energy, Inc., which received $500,000 for its decision support platform for utilities that shows them the benefits of deploying distributed energy resources onto the grid; QBotix, Inc., received $972,874 to use robotics to aide in solar power plant operations; REhnu, Inc., which received $1 million to develop its new concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) technology; and Seeo received $317,536 to develop an Energy Storage System (ESS) with SunEdison.