As part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for an American economy built to last, today U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced over $12 million to speed solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace through the Energy Department’s SunShot Incubator program. The funding will accelerate American innovation in solar energy and manufacturing by supporting advancements in hardware, reductions in soft costs, and the development of pilot manufacturing and production projects.
“Investments in American energy and manufacturing are critical building blocks for an American economy built to last,” said Secretary Chu. “The SunShot Incubator program fosters the innovative small businesses that will rapidly bring technological advances to market and pioneer a new era in American energy.”
The SunShot Incubator program helps launch new startups and business units within existing companies to accelerate the innovative solar technology development. Since 2007, DOE has invested $60 million through the Incubator in promising technologies as they are brought from the lab to the marketplace. These investments have catalyzed $1.6 billion in private sector support. The federal investment in these projects has been leveraged at a rate of more than 26-to-1.
The funding opportunity announced today builds on the SunShot Incubator program’s history of successful partnerships. Nearly forty companies have participated in the Incubator, including Colorado-based PrimeStar. In 2007, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and PrimeStar Solar announced a cooperative R&D agreement to transition NREL’s cadmium telluride solar technology to commercial production. Primestar later received a $3 million Incubator award to commercialize its highly-efficient, low-cost photovoltaic solar panels. Primestar, now owned by GE, has announced a $600 million investment in the company and the construction of a large-scale manufacturing plant in Colorado that will employ more than 350 American workers to produce state-of-the-art solar panels. Through the Department’s SunShot Incubator program, these types of investments help early-stage companies overcome barriers to bring innovative solar technologies to market faster.
Today’s SunShot Incubator funding will support innovations in the development of hardware and non-hardware approaches from the proof-of-concept stage to prototype demonstration, including advances in photovoltaics, concentrating solar power and power electronics, as well as streamlined permitting, inspection and financing approaches, and to shorten the timeline for awardees to transition innovative prototypes produced at lab-scale into pilot and eventually full-scale manufacturing, production, or deployment. Each of the investments will require significant cost-share commitments from the awardees.
Applications are due on April 9, 2012. For more information and application requirements for the Funding Opportunity Announcement, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.