The U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC), an industry-led collaboration headquartered in New York at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to improve manufacturing processes for thin film CIGS photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, including products, metrology and reliability that will support the U.S. solar industry in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of next-generation solar PV systems.
“In support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s innovative green energy strategy that is fueling New York’s emergence as a leader in the cleantech industry, PVMC is delighted to partner with NREL to help drive important advances in our nation’s solar future,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, PVMC Chief Operating and Technology Officer and CNSE Vice President for Clean Energy Programs. “Through this initiative, we look forward to enhancing the manufacturability of thin film solar PV technologies, which is critical to enabling increased usage in residential, commercial and utility applications across the country.”
“This unique partnership between NREL and PVMC will leverage national resources, accelerate commercialization of next generation solar products, and boost interactions between U.S. research labs and industry manufacturing initiatives,” said Joe Hudgins, Senior VP of Business Development and Strategic Alliances, PVMC. “Together we are leading the national effort to help facilitate the transfer and commercialization of future solar products, equipment, and manufacturing lines including thin film, advanced silicon, and future materials.”
NREL is the world’s leading renewable energy center in many fields of photovoltaic research, and has established processes, measurement and characterization capabilities, and expertise in all the major PV conversion technologies. PVMC will join NREL to support U.S. solar manufacturing by leveraging decades of knowledge and capabilities in materials and cell processing, advanced testing, metrology and materials analysis, and modeling. These interactions will accelerate PVMC program deliverables and help overcome the gaps and challenges necessary to build a strong U.S. solar industry.
Additionally, the NREL and PVMC collaboration effort will be expanded to other national labs to create a greater impact on the U.S. PV manufacturing industry. These national partnerships replicate the successful SEMATECH and CNSE models that have regained and sustained U.S. technology leadership in the semiconductor industry for several decades.
Spearheaded by CNSE and SEMATECH as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative, PVMC is targeting a reduction in the total installed cost of solar energy systems by 75 percent over the next decade. As an active participant in PVMC’s U.S. Thin-Films PV Roadmap, NREL is working with other roadmap members to provide a congruent plan for the national CIGS industry, including module and systems manufacturers, suppliers, and end-users, that will identify common challenges and define the areas of technical developments needed to sustain and advance a competitive U.S. photovoltaic industry.
Several initiatives are currently underway to enhance product and manufacturing development, some of which are likely to become industry standards in the future. Recently, SEMI and PVMC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance their cooperation in areas of standards and roadmap activities for the solar thin film industry.