The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the 3M Corporation $4.4 million to advance development of technology that will reduce the cost of photovoltaic solar systems. The fund, that will be distributed over the course of three years, is part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, a program with a proposed budget of more than $200 million.
Part of the SunShot Initiative’s goal is to manufacture photovoltaics that are 75% cheaper, making them cost-competitive without government subsidies. That benchmark is tied to the objective to produce solar energy at $1 per watt by the end of the decade; current rates for solar are estimated as high as $2.35 per watt.
3M is collaborating with the DOE’s National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) near Denver, Colorado to test the performance of their “Ultra Barrier Solar Film” that debuted last October. The 3M technology replaces the glass on traditional solar panels with something the company says is lighter, more flexible, and potentially more cost effective for manufacturing. The company also claims the solar film ha excellent moisture barrier performance and a high light transmission.
The NREL recently confirmed the moisture barrier performance and will be testing other components with 3M as part of the funding initiative. We recently reported on two large fellowship programs that the SunShot Initiative is undertaking, but we’ve also noted such programs are currently facing proposed cuts from the House of Representatives.
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