CNSE partnership secures funding from Sunshot Initiative

Consortium wins $62.5 million from SunShot Initiative to reduce solar to $1 per watt within 5 yearsThe big winner in this round of financing from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium, a partnership of SEMATECH, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at the State University of New York at Albany, and the University of Southern Florida.

The group won a total of $62.5 million, and CNSE won the lion’s share of that funding ($57.5 million).

This is the second round of funding being made through the SunShot Initiative, a bid with up to $457 million in financing to reduce the cost of solar to $1 per installed watt over the next 10 years. With this installation, the DOE announced up to $112.5 million in grants over the next five years to support development of advanced solar photovoltaic manufacturing processes throughout the United States.

“The photovoltaic manufacturing consortium has unlimited potential when it comes to advancing our technological capabilities, increasing our competitiveness abroad, and most importantly – creating jobs for middle-class families in the Capital Region,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a press release.

“This is a big deal. Not just for us, but for the solar program in general,” said Pradeep Haldar, CNSE’s vice president for Clean Energy Programs.

The consortium will consist of companies involved with copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics manufacturing, but the companies have not yet been named, and the contracts remain to be finalized.

“Over the next few weeks, we’re hoping to get the details of the contract finalized,” Haldar said. “We’re pursuing getting the cost down for that technology and below, products like silicon.”

And while the SunShot Initiative’s goal is to reduce the cost of solar to $1 per installed watt, Haldar thinks this project could do it even faster.

“We think we can accelerate that goal and achieve it in the 5- to 10-year time period,” he said.

The consortium is developing a partnership of 80 companies, working together across the whole supply chain.

“We’re leveraging a lot more funding than the DOE project,” Halder said. The consortium already had financial commitments totaling $400 million from state and private companies, according to a CNSE press release.

The consortium will use the existing model of SEMATECH to establish manufacturing development facilities that PV companies and researchers can use for product prototyping, demonstration, and pilot-scale manufacturing to evaluate and validate CIGS thin film and PV manufacturing technologies.

“This is a proven business model,” Halder said.

Pictured: Sen. Schumer, courtey of CNSE.