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DOE issues RFI for next-gen photovoltaic technology

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking comments and information from members of academia, research laboratories and industry to assist DOE in understanding the research topics in next-generation photovoltaic technologies that would aid in: narrowing the gap between theoretical and realized device efficiency limits; exceeding the Shockley-Queisser limits; overcoming materials and process barriers.

The knowledge gained from these research efforts may lead to methods or device structures that can facilitate the deployment of photovoltaics through reduced cell costs achieved by increased cell efficiencies or cost effective materials/processes.

The request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000965) asks interested parties to provide information on topic areas in innovative, transformative PV cell technology research which have high potential to be impactful to the PV landscape in 10-20 years, particularly those that will facilitate terawatt deployment of PV.


Nick Lyons

...those that will facilitate terawatt deployment of PV.

Better PV cells will not solve the problem of cheap energy storage, which is the real issue with any kind of massive adoption of PV on the grid.


There are lots of places where you could deploy lower cost PV, even if it is only to be a fraction of the total energy generated.

If you go too far, you end up with a mess like Germany which has too much solar, locked in to crazy purchase agreements. But that was a political decision, so let them sweat it out.

If PV gets really cheap, people will deploy it without any subsidies, which would be a start. But it will never get that cheap to deploy as you still need land and fittings to put it up.

Anthony F

The state of Arizona is already looking to backpedal on solar net metering and looking to boost bills for those with solar from close to nothing up to $90-150/mo by charing fees based on peak power consumption.

Solar is a good first step but ultimately we need both solar panels that are cheap and powerful plus a small grid storage battery for your garage that can reduce the home'a peak power consumption.


@Anthony, well there we have a good conundrum.
Why should utilities provide net-metering when they are providing the grid as a free "battery".
Maybe they should buy excess solar power at the wholesale price, and charge a standing charge for providing the service.

Then you can buy electricity from the grid at the normal rates.
If you want to add batteries to store your excess that is fine, and that is up to you.

You could consider introducing schemes like this now that solar is so cheap, but 5 years ago, nobody would have gone for it.

The question is (or was) how do you build a PV industry, and then transition to a steady state without unilaterally breaking contracts etc.

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