Biden Administration announces $56M in solar funding via DOE as climate legislation dies again


As the Democrats’ climate change spending bill dies another death, the Biden Administration announced new solar manufacturing funding initiatives via the Department of Energy (DOE). The $56 million in funding includes $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These funds seem to largely benefit non-silicon, cadmium-telluride-based solar PV, the specialty of U.S.-based First Solar, as well as perovskite research and development.

The new programs announced today are “designed to drive innovation in solar technology and manufacturing, supporting opportunities for the U.S. to expand production of thin-film modules, which do not rely on foreign-dominated supply chains, as well as supporting newer technologies like perovskite solar cells,” according to the announcement.

The $29 million FY22 Photovoltaics (PV) Research and Development funding opportunity includes $10 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support projects that increase the reuse and recycling of solar technologies.

The funding opportunity also supports projects to develop PV module designs that reduce manufacturing costs, as well as those that advance the manufacturing of PV cells made from perovskites, a family of materials that show potential for durability, high performance, and low production costs — that is still a ways off from commercial viability.

The FY22 Solar Manufacturing Incubator funding opportunity will provide $27 million for projects aimed at commercializing new technologies that can expand private investment in U.S. solar manufacturing. Funding is available for projects that ready new technologies and manufacturing processes for commercialization and demonstrate solutions that can boost domestic manufacturing of thin-film PV made from cadmium telluride. Translation: First Solar.

The DOE also announced $18 million in funding through the Technology Commercialization Fund for seven proposed National Laboratory projects.

DOE is also issuing a Request for Information on challenges and opportunities for vehicle-integrated PV, which would enable solar energy to provide power to vehicles, including cars, recreational vehicles, trains, boats, and planes.

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