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DOE to award up to $12M to accelerate record-breaking solar cell efficiency

As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000806) for up to $12 million to develop innovative, ultra-efficient solar devices that will close the gap with the theoretical efficiency limit, or the highest potential percentage of sunlight converted directly into electricity.

In 1961, William Shockley and Hans Queisser published their seminal research detailing the limit of energy conversion efficiency for solar cells. Since then, various solar technologies have come closer to meeting this maximum level, about 30% for a single-junction solar cell.

The new initiative—the Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency II (FPACEII)—aims to accelerate record-breaking conversion efficiencies that will close the gap with this theoretical limit for a variety of PV cells including silicon-based technologies and thin-film materials such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and cooper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).

More specifically, the FOA is soliciting collaborative research teams to define and fabricate model systems that utilize a single p-n junction device structure and have the potential to approach the Shockley-Queisser power conversion efficiency limits (for a chosen bandgap and absorber material).

The emphasis of the FOA is assembling cohesive and highly diverse teams of experts within and outside the PV community who can achieve the goals of creating a model system concept and a subsequent device that can approach theoretical limits.

DOE SunShot anticipates significant collaboration between experts in fundamental materials, characterization, device physics, ab-initio simulations, and PV device integration to adequately address these issues.

The new funding opportunity builds on the SunShot Initiative’s FPACEI projects awarded in September 2011 which are aimed at eliminating the gap between the efficiencies of best prototype cells achieved in the laboratory and the efficiencies of typical cells produced on manufacturing lines.



This is an area where much more R & D $$$ could go. Future solar cells efficiency could go upward to 30+ % and their cost could be reduced to much below $1/Watt when produced in the right places. Future cells could use more of the light spectrum and lower indirect sunlight.

Solar e-power capture and e-storage are two of the most promising future technologies to replace current dirty coal fired and NG/SG power plants worldwide.

A rent article in the 'CELL' magazine claims that pollution, junk food, drugs, pesticide and 1001 other industrial products are having a negative effects on our DNA and are making us progressively more stupid. The quantity and quality of the human male sperms are also being affected. Some believe that DNA progressive degeneration may explain the current popularity of right wing and extreme right wing political parties.


The life of a polysilicon solar array out in the field is about 20 years. It's ROI is so low that it has paid for itself after only 12 years. Hardly a reason to invest in solar unless the cost is reduced drastically or massive government tax incentives come into play.


So the life is 20 years and ROI is 12 and so it's a loser? That math doesn't jive. It sounds like a winner, it makes money. Am I missing something? Why don't you just say what you mean. You mean more money can be made elsewhere and so since money is all that matters, solar is a loser. It's a loser because it's not the biggest winner, like oil and coal. Oil and coal also have the advantage of having all the political clout, both democratic and republican.

So money can be made with solar except it is not the big money. It's profitable, but it takes so long no CEO will ever get a bonus from it, and all the old people who have money in stocks and who only care about themselves will not make any money on it. Thanks old people and CEOs for only caring about yourselves and your wealth.


This is the basis of it, if it is not hugely profitable, forget it. That sort of short term greed is what got us in this mess and it certainly won't get us out of it.

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