UAlbany gets $20M to develop next-generation of PV manufacturing equipment


Ceres Technologies PV manufacturing equipmentUnder a new partnership with the U.S. Photovoltaic Consortium (PVMC) and Ceres Technologies the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s Albany NanoTech Complex CNSE will work towards developing the next generation of PV manufacturing equipment.

The $20 million is supported partly by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) SunShot Initiative. But it’s being leveraged to a large extent by companies participating in PVMC, according to CNSE Vice President for Clean Energy Programs, as well as Chief Operating and Technology Officer of PVMC Dr. Pradeep Haldar.

The funds will allow CSNE to develop new manufacturing technology and refine existing manufacturing technology for copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) photovoltaics, Halder said. “They’re trying to make new equipment that hasn’t been made before and they’re working to refine some of it, too,” he said.

“This in not just basic research, but manufacturing equipment development,” Haldar said. He explained that the tools being worked on aren’t being built to develop photovoltaics in laboratory conditions or on bench tops. “These are large-scale tools we’re developing and this specific one is for CIGS,” he said.

The funding is part of a larger, $57.5 million award from the SunShot Initiative granted to CSNE to support five-years of research into next-generation photovoltaics. However, this fund is dedicated to the process of making solar. “It’s mostly about process, about throughput, about manufacturing scale-up and yield,” Haldar said. The research isn’t about producing champion cells. “But on the manufacturing scale getting the best efficiencies with the highest yields in a throughput manner.” More specifically the funds will support manufacturing development of flexible CIGS PV.

Under the collaboration Ceres joined PVMC as a core member. The company projects that the fund will create more than 250 green energy jobs over the next 5 years, which will include research and development jobs, as well as facilities and manufacturing jobs. It’s also providing PVMC with two vacuum thin-film deposition tools. “The program with Ceres is a flexible PV deposition tool,” Haldar said.