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The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) supports solar manufacturing and competitiveness research to develop pathways to commercialization for high-impact innovation in the solar industry. The goal is to move technologies to market by strengthening innovative concepts and increasing their readiness for greater private sector investment and scale-up to commercialization. ­

Research and development in solar manufacturing and competitiveness helps to build­ a strong clean energy manufacturing sector and supply chain that produce cost-competitive clean energy products and keep pace with the rising domestic and global demand for affordable solar energy. Additionally, this research area helps small businesses develop ideas into successful technologies that benefit the solar industry. Cost analysis is also a critical component that ties all of SETO’s work together to measure the current state of the solar industry. All of this work will help SETO reach its goal of making solar energy more affordable. Learn more about SETO’s goals.

Within SETO’s manufacturing and competitiveness research area, efforts are focused on three main topics. Learn more about them below.

Research Topics

Solar Manufacturing
Solar manufacturing refers to the fabrication and assembly of materials across the solar value chain.
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Solar Business Support
SETO supports entrepreneurs and small businesses in their efforts to develop and advance solar technologies.
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Solar Workforce Development
Solar workforce development includes online training, on-the-job training, curriculum development, and other activities that prepare people for solar.
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SETO funding for manufacturing and competitiveness research projects covers a wide variety of technologies including photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, and power electronics, as well as non-hardware costs such as customer acquisition, permitting, financing, interconnection, inspection, and workforce development. Generally, projects target funding gaps that occur in the initial proof of concept, pre-commercial stage. These projects are managed by the manufacturing and competitiveness team.

Manufacturing and Competitiveness Funding Programs graphic

As shown in the graphic above, funding for manufacturing and competitiveness research is mainly divided between funding opportunities, the American-Made Solar Prize, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, and the Technology Commercialization Fund.

Read the Manufacturing and Competitiveness Fact Sheet for more information about this research area.

Learn more about SETO’s funding programs and current funding opportunities.

Manufacturing and Competitiveness Success Stories

EERE Success Story—Small Wonder: New Converter and Wiring Setup Can Improve Photovoltaic Module Performance
eIQ Energy’s power electronics device enables modules to work independently while increasing power output.
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EERE Success Story—Inspector Gadget: New Device Can Spot Defects in Photovoltaic Modules
Startup Tau Science’s scanner shows signs of module damage and keeps repair crews safe.
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EERE Success Story—X Marks the Spot: Solar Site Design Goes High Tech
Utility-scale solar plants can power thousands of homes but finding an ideal location for them isn’t easy.
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EERE Success Story—Solar Software Platform Fast-Tracks Grid Connections
GridUnity—formerly Qado Energy— set out to completely change the interconnection process with a cloud-connected tool that determines a solar pr...
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EERE Success Story—Solar Savings and Benefits Multiply with Energy Tradeoff Calculator
When attracting new solar customers, a savings forecast is at the heart of every solar installer’s pitch. A savings forecast helps potential cust...
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EERE Success Story—Setting the PACE for Commercial Solar Growth

Big box retailers are leading in commercial solar installations in the United States, but solar’s energy-saving benefits aren’t limited to Fortune...

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EERE Success Story—Drones Help Solar Site Design Take Flight
EERE Success Story—Drones Help Solar Site Design Take Flight
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EERE Success Story—Sun Number Partnership with Zillow Brings Solar Potential Scores to Millions of Americans

Millions of Americans looking to buy a home have a new resource to help them go solar in the process. Thanks to a partnership between SunShot...

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EERE Success Story – Silicon Solar Wafers Enter a New Dimension
EERE Success Story – Silicon Solar Wafers Enter a New Dimension
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EERE Success Story—Connection Without the Costs
EERE Success Story—Connection Without the Costs
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EERE Success Story—SunShot Incubator Awardee Helps Companies Offer Discount Solar as Employee Perk
EERE Success Story—SunShot Incubator Awardee Helps Companies Offer Discount Solar as Employee Perk
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