The US Department of Energy (DOE) will invest $50 million over two years for the SUNPATH (Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home) program, aimed to help the US reclaim its competitive edge in solar manufacturing. SUNPATH represents the second solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative (PVMI) supporting the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.
As recently as 1995, the United States maintained a dominant global solar market share, manufacturing 43% of the world’s PV panels. In steady decline, US market share shrank to 27% by 2000 and to 7% by 2010. SUNPATH is intended to help return the United States to the forefront.
PVMI Part II: SUNPATH seeks to increase domestic manufacturing through investments that have sustainable, competitive cost and performance advantages. SUNPATH will help companies with pilot-scale commercial production scale up their manufacturing capabilities, enabling them to overcome a funding gap that often curtails domestic business at a critical stage. By bridging this gap, SUNPATH intends to help ensure that innovative, low-cost solar technologies are manufactured in the United States.
The PV Manufacturing Initiative accelerates the cost reduction and commercialization of solar technologies by coordinating solutions across industry.
PVMI Part I: Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships has resulted in the selection of $110 million in projects to three industry and academic consortia to enable substantial cost reductions in PV module production. To ensure that these technologies are manufactured domestically, PVMI Part II: SUNPATH will support an initial ramp up to high volume manufacturing.
DOE’s national laboratories are stepping up their validation facilities to ensure that the technologies developed and manufactured in Parts I and II are tested at scale in multiple locations and climates in the United States.
The Department of Energy is seeking applicants with industrial-scale demonstrations of PV modules, cells, or substrates that offer lower-cost solutions in line with the SunShot goal. Applications are due by 28 October 2011. More information and application requirements can be found at the Funding Opportunity Exchange (FOA number DE-FOA-0000566).