-- These projects have concluded --
Descriptions of completed projects follow:
1366 Technologies ($500,000 Pre-Incubator in 2009 and $3,000,000 Incubator in 2008)
Lexington, Massachusetts—Standard wafer manufacturing involves a multistep, batch process of ingot casting, blocking, squaring, and sawing that wastes up to 50% of the costly silicon. 1366 Technologies, which was spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008, has developed a single-step, high-throughput "direct wafer" technology that rapidly solidifies a thin sheet directly from molten silicon to form a standard, 156-millimeter multicrystalline wafer.
Abound Solar ($2,430,000 in 2007)
Fort Collins, Colorado— Abound Solar simplified a thermal process to fabricate low-cost, high-efficiency thin-film CdTe power modules. A module efficiency of 10.0% was achieved on a 65 megawatt (MW) manufacturing line. The cycle time from glass-to-finished modules was reduced to about 2 hours, and the film thickness achieved was less than 3.0 microns. Before closing in 2012, the company also developed a new packaging scheme that does not use the more expensive ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) sheet in the finished PV product. Final Report.
Alta Devices ($3,000,000 in 2009)
Santa Clara, California—Alta Devices used its DOE funds to develop an innovative high-efficiency (more than 20%), low-cost compound-semiconductor PV module, with market entry expected in 2011. To improve the production economics of high-efficiency PV applications, the unique Alta cell/module architecture employs front and back contacts with minimal efficiency loss, antireflection coatings, and optimized cell geometry and matrix interconnect schemes. Progress to date includes a verified thin-film sub-module efficiency of 20%. Source: Alta Devices. (June 2011). "New Science Demonstrated as Alta Devices Makes Rapid Solar Efficiency Advances." Press release. Final Report.
AmberWave, Inc. ($1,000,000 in 2012)
Salem, New Hampshire—AmberWave has developed a robust, ultra-thin, mono-crystalline silicon (Si) technology on flexible steel carriers, reducing silicon usage by more than 90% compared with mainstream wafer-based silicon photovoltaics (PV). Under this award, AmberWave is integrating this technology with the proven high-performance solar cell designs developed at the University of New South Wales, which has demonstrated the world-leading, 25%-efficient silicon solar cell.
Applied Novel Devices, Inc. ($500,000 in 2013)
Austin, Texas—Project Summary: Applied Novel Devices is developing a new device architecture and manufacturing technology to reduce fabrication cost of high efficiency silicon (Si) solar cells and thereby lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
Ascent Solar Technologies ($315,037 in 2009)
Littleton, Colorado—Under the DOE funding, Ascent Solar developed a proprietary process that uses a zinc-magnesium-oxide (ZnMgO) window layer to replace the standard window layer of a copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cell. Eventually, the new material could replace all the top layers of the device. Because ZnMgO increases the absorber layer's bandgap, this approach could potentially overcome performance-limiting aspects of conventional CIGS solar cells, taking an essential step toward larger bandgap and multijunction polycrystalline thin-film devices. More flexible and lighter weight thin-film PV technology can allow solar power to be integrated into products and applications like building-integrated PV (BIPV) and electronic integrated and electronic portable power products (EIPV), among many others. In addition, the unique flexibility of Ascent Solar's modules enables solar power applications with fabrics and non-flat surfaces. Final Report.
Aurora Solar, Inc. ($400,000 in 2014)
Palo Alto, CA—Aurora Solar is building a cloud-based optimization platform that automates the design, engineering and permit generation functions of a solar photovoltaic installation. The optimization function will consider usage data, utility rates, solar component characteristics, irradiance and shading data to generate optimal site-specific plans.
Bandgap Engineering ($1,000,000 in 2012)
Woburn, Massachusetts—Bandgap is working to increase solar cell efficiencies by about 10% by integrating Si nanowire cells into standard processing, which increases power density and reduces costs. In this project, Bandgap aims to provide nanowire-coated wafers to cell manufacturers and cooperatively develop the fully integrated manufacturing process.
Banyan Energy ($500,000 in 2009)
Kensington, California—Banyan Energy has taken a fundamentally new approach to concentrating sunlight. The company's innovation is based on an optics breakthrough called aggregated total internal reflection (ATIR), in which light is concentrated, aggregated, and delivered to a focal area via a waveguide. With the DOE funding, the company has developed a flat 7x optic approach for concentrator photovoltaics (CPV), which promises to lower the cost of silicon PV modules and increase the scale of production. With this new technology, silicon module manufacturers can lower their capital-expenditure-per-watt manufacturing costs, increase the scale of module production by as much as five times, and encourage the adoption of silicon modules by tying in to the existing silicon infrastructure (meaning that cells, trackers, installation practices, and grid technologies can stay the same). Banyan has built and conducted electrical and thermal performance tests on working prototype modules. Final Report.
Blue Square Energy ($1,435,301 in 2007)
North East, Maryland—Blue Square Energy focused on the manufacturing of thin-crystalline-silicon solar cell by growing a high-purity silicon layer onto a low-cost metallurgical-grade silicon substrate, which can produce the high performance and reliability of traditional solar cells with reduced material utilization and manufacturing costs.
Brittmore Group, LLC ($684,708 in 2013)
San Jose, California—The Brittmore Group is developing and demonstrating an automated system for pre-assembling frameless photovoltaic (PV) modules into larger panels using construction adhesives. The panels are then deployed across large-scale PV arrays by industrial robots that travel back and forth on the mounting rack. This technique promises a significant reduction in construction duration and cost. In addition, it is expected to accelerate market acceptance of frameless PV modules, which further reduces structural materials and electrical installation costs.
Caelux ($1,000,000 in 2010)
Pasadena, California—Caelux is developing a novel solar cell design and manufacturing process that will dramatically reduce production costs by minimizing the amount of semiconductor material used. In addition, the new technology has vast potential to surpass standard device efficiency. Lightweight, flexible, crystalline silicon solar cells will offer the proven performance of multicrystalline silicon wafer-based PV at thin-film costs. Caelux's cells will be interchangeable with today's wafer-based silicon solar cells, allowing for their rapid introduction into the market, while their light weight, high efficiency, and mechanical flexibility will enable more robust, cost-effective PV applications in the future.
CaliSolar ($2,454,000 in 2007)
Menlo Park, California—CaliSolar (now Silicor Materials) proposed producing cost-effective solar cells from low-cost, abundant, but impurity-rich silicon feedstock materials by focusing on metallization, hydrogenation, and cell processing. They are using upgraded metallurgical grade silicon (UMG-Si) to develop multicrystalline cells with improved contacts and lower the cost of cell production. New techniques were developed that improve both ingot and metallization processes and increase the efficiency of multicrystalline cells. This research has cut the silicon-cost contribution to cells fabrication in half while improving efficiency because UMG-Si has the potential to cost less than $20/kg. CaliSolar successfully demonstrated 17%-cell efficiencies based on the UMG-Si cells. They are now producing 75 MW of 16.5% average efficiency multicrystalline cells in their California factory, exceeding the project goal of "more than 14.5% in routine production." Source: K. Ounadjela and A. Blosse, "New Metallization Technique Suitable for 6 MW Pilot Production of Efficient Multicrystalline Solar Cells Using Upgraded Metallurgical Silicon Final Technical Progress Report." (August 2010). CaliSolar. Final Report.
Celllink ($703,519 in 2013)
Belmont, California—CelLink Corporation is developing a low-cost flex circuit for interconnecting rear-contact solar cells. This technology has the potential to reduce the manufacturing cost of crystalline silicon solar modules by over 10% and increase module efficiency by over 1% absolute.
Clean Energy Experts ($495,040 in 2012)
Manhattan Beach, California—Clean Energy Experts is creating a cloud-based software toolkit to reduce customer acquisition costs for U.S. solar companies. The industry-specific software toolkit enables companies—from small installers to large manufacturers—to improve their marketing effectiveness, close more sales, improve customer service, and ultimately reduce costs.
Clean Power Finance ($500,000 in 2012)
San Francisco, California—Clean Power Finance is building an online marketplace that will increase certainty for O&M by providing back-up servicing for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The marketplace will enable various vendors to bid on repair jobs, ensuring service for homeowners and peace of mind for investors. Investors and analysts have cited the lack of large-scale O&M capabilities as a major factor preventing the securitization of solar, which is vital to growing the solar market with competitive capital investments.
Clean Power Finance ($1,000,000 in 2012)
San Francisco, California—Clean Power Finance is creating an online brokerage for customer acquisition for solar companies. The brokerage will enable installers to use independent companies to lower customer acquisition costs through steadier project flows.
Clean Power Research ($945,529 in 2013)
Kirkland, Washington—Clean Power Research is developing a software platform that will significantly reduce the soft costs associated with interconnecting distributed generation and encourage adoption with visualization tools and economic metrics. This software platform builds on the PowerClerk family of software that has successfully streamlined processing for nearly 75% of distributed solar incentives nationwide. The platform has the potential to cut interconnection costs by up to 65% and reduce overall soft costs by up to $800 per installed system. Final Report.
concept3D ($1,275,791 in 2012)
Boulder, Colorado—concept3D is building simuwatt, a virtual, visual, data-rich mobile application to rapidly determine solar energy output for high performance buildings and to instantly provide design documentation for permits. simuwatt will also enable 3D visualization of solar projects for utilities, installers, and manufacturers, creating a new pathway to reduce customer acquisition costs.
Crystal Solar ($500,000 in 2009 and $4,000,000 in 2010)
Santa Clara, California—Crystal Solar successfully prototyped thin-crystal silicon solar cells on ceramic substrates to reduce the manufacturing cost of silicon by reducing the losses associated with wafer generation and the thickness of the resulting silicon wafer. Using epitaxial deposition of high-quality, single-crystal silicon (50 microns thick) for solar cell fabrication reduces silicon usage by about 83%. The use of ceramic-handling layers enables handling, processing, and packaging of the thin-silicon layers. Final Report 2013; Final Report 2011.
EnergySage ($500,000 in 2012)
Cambridge, Massachusetts—EnergySage is streamlining the solar photovoltaic purchase process for installers while creating a novel reverse auction platform to ensure consumers receive the best prices available while lowering sales costs for installers through its website EnergySage.com. At EnergySage.com a consumer can solicit multiple quotes from pre-screened installers. The quotes are displayed in a standardized format that allows consumers to easily evaluate and compare them to select the best option, fostering price transparency and competition.
Enfocus Engineering ($1,179,340 in 2007)
Sunnyvale, California—Enfocus developed a lightweight, low-profile, high-concentration PV module which is fully encapsulated and protected from wind, hail, dust, and moisture, using high-efficiency multi-junction cells to generate higher power outputs in area-constrained applications such as rooftops.
Enki Technology ($1,500,000 in 2012)
San Jose, California—Enki Technology worked to improve PV module efficiencies and reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) through development of low-cost anti-reflective and anti-soiling coatings. Final Report; Coating and curing apparatus and methods.
EPIR Technologies, Inc. ($500,000 in 2009)
Bolingbrook, Illinois—EPIR developed thin-film solar cells as a lower cost alternative to conventional silicon-based cells. Thin-film solar cells use materials that are laid in sheets onto surfaces of roof shingles or building blocks, among other substrates. The company reports that it has repeatedly fabricated high-efficiency polycrystalline cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells on commercial glass substrates. DOE-supported tests have shown that these cells to have a maximum efficiency rate of 15.2%, representing an impressive increase in efficiency. EPIR's ultra-high-efficiency tandem solar cells, novel coatings, and modules promise to make major reductions in the cost per watt of PV power. Sources: "EPIR Technologies Creates Polycrystalline CdTe Solar Cells on Glass," Solar News & Views. (Feb. 2011). "EPIR Technologies Reports Advance in Thin-Film Solar-Cell Efficiency," Bloomberg. (Feb., 2011). Final Report.
Folsom Labs ($350,000 in 2013)
San Francisco, California—Folsom Labs makes software that helps PV system engineers quickly and efficiently design high-performance solar arrays by combining advanced performance modeling with cloud-based design tools. Under the award, Folsom Labs will extend its core HelioScope product to provide automatic evaluation of various system designs and component choices to quickly find the lowest LCOE approach for a given site.
Genability ($500,000 in 2012 and $1,000,000 in 2013)
San Francisco, California—Genability is creating a suite of automation, optimization, and collaboration software tools for the solar industry. These will allow solar providers, installers, and financiers to optimize the economics and value of solar PV systems. From prospecting and initial estimates, precise avoided costs, system sizing and tariff optimization, to fully modeled power purchase agreement rates and escalators, Genability is streamlining the solar sales process. In addition Genability is also developing solar savings reports that installers and developers can deliver to their customers. These savings reports are used by solar companies at the time of the sale to communicate to potential solar savings, as well as after install to deliver what actual savings have been achieved. Genability is developing a "Verified by Genability" certification that will go with these proposals and actual reports.
Geostellar ($750,000 in 2013)
Martinsburg, West Virginia—Geostellar is streamlining the procurement, financing, installation, and maintenance of solar arrays with the creation of a Solar Project Record. This will be available to homeowners, installers, government agencies, and financing companies through Web and mobile applications. The Solar Record provides application developers with important data, including the estimated cost of solar energy production on a particular rooftop, utility rates, load profiles, incentives, property ownership, equipment configuration, installation, and permitting requirements, for individual properties across the United States. Elements of the Solar Record will be updated through the application programming interface over the lifecycle of the solar array, providing valuable analytics on the performance and pricing of solar goods and services for future product development and the development of a robust securitization market.
Halotechnics ($1,000,000 in 2011)
Emeryville, California—Halotechnics is developing a thermal energy storage system operating at 700°C using a new high-stability, low-melting-point molten salt as the heat transfer and thermal storage material, and demonstrating unprecedented efficiency for CSP applications. Final Report.
Infinite Invention, LLC ($386,462 in 2012)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—The "Solar Socket" is a device that adds sockets for plugging in solar PV systems between the electric meter and meter case. It streamlines the installation process by cutting wiring costs, scheduling headaches, and site inspection time while also allowing homeowners to swap in new technologies as they emerge.
Innovalight ($3,000,000 in 2008)
Sunnyvale, California—Innovalight developed very high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells and modules by ink-jet printing their proprietary "silicon ink" onto thin-crystalline silicon wafers, using a printing process that significantly reduces both the manufacturing costs and the complexity required to make today's very high-efficiency cells and modules. The process was recognized by R&D Magazine as one of the top 100 innovations for 2011 (R&D 100 Awards). DuPont, which is one of the largest material suppliers for the global PV industry, purchased Innovalight in 2011. Final Report.
kWh Analytics ($450,000 in 2013)
Oakland, California—kWh Analytics is building big data information tools to help investors understand risk in the new solar asset class. Backed by the largest independent database of solar asset performance in the United States, kWh Analytics enables investors to deploy more capital with confidence.
Lightwave Power ($450,000 in 2009)
Cambridge, Massachusetts—Lightwave worked with Iowa State University to develop novel solar energy products based on cutting-edge technologies. One such innovation, a photonic reflector backing, is essentially a tiny lattice of reflecting silver dots that replaces the reflecting backing on a standard solar cell. The lattice traps light at frequencies that boost the cells' ability to generate electricity from light. Furthermore, the cells are made with a nanocrystalline and amorphous silicon superlattice. Combining a superlattice with the photonic structure increases light absorption in a very thin silicon film. The amorphous silicon portion of the structure enhances light absorption; the nanocrystalline part helps to transport light-generated electrons. Using these breakthroughs, large-area thin sheets of repeating nano- and microsized structures can be designed to absorb, convert, re-emit, and guide light. These structures are generally made from common metals and dielectrics, and manufactured on flexible substrates using a roll-to-roll process, lowering manufacturing costs. Source: "MRC Researchers Boost Solar Cell Efficiencies," Iowa State University IPRT News. (Feb. 2011). Final Report.
Luna Innovations ($499,994 in 2009)
Danville, Virginia—Organic PV (OPV) currently has two primary drawbacks: low performance and low reliability. Luna Innovations is working on increasing performance by using a C80 metallofullerene isomer instead of the more standard C60 fullerene. This project combines the C80 acceptor with high-performance Plextronics donor polymers in an attempt to increase tunability and band-alignment optimization in order to enhance performance. Recent highlights achieved through this work include a 40% increase in open circuit voltage and 4.89% device efficiency. Final Report.
MicroLink Devices ($2,550,000 in 2007 and Pre-Incubator of $500,000 in 2009)
Niles, Illinois—Under the DOE funding, Microlink Devices developed high-efficiency, low-cost, multijunction solar cells based on epitaxial liftoff (ELO) and wafer bonding. Combining these approaches leads to innovative cell architectures with the potential to surpass the current state of the art in cell efficiency. Wafer bonding avoids long metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) growth runs and may eventually enable bonding of dual-junction or even single-junction cells to form devices with four or more junctions. In ELO, the epitaxially-grown solar-cell structure is removed from the gallium arsenide (GaAs) substrate, which allows for multiple reuses of the substrate and a cell structure that is substantially thinner than a solar cell fabricated by standard methods. This technology has the potential to reduce the cost of the solar cell by as much as 50% while improving heat dissipation from the cell. Final Report July 2012; Final Report April 2012.
Mosaic ($2,000,000 in 2011)
Oakland, California--Solar Mosaic brings much-needed capital to the solar industry with a web platform for everyday Americans to create and fund solar projects. Mosaic's unique online crowdfunding platform helps to reduce the soft costs of solar financing and customer acquisition while enabling thousands of Americans to own a piece of the growing clean energy economy.
Norwich Technologies ($677,504 in 2014)
White River Junction, VT—Norwich Technologies is working to commercialize its highly-efficient receiver design that enables the concentrating solar power (CSP) industry to realize higher outputs from parabolic trough plants, especially as the industry adopts higher temperature (higher-T) solar fields. Combined with a low-cost, high-accuracy collector, this solar field design will offer an unprecedented combination of high output and low price for trough CSP. In addition to working on the receiver, Norwich is working with project partners to build a collector (trough mirror) that will use a suspension structure instead of the traditional truss structure—dramatically reducing the amount of steel used in a CSP system which is a primary cost driver.
Picasolar ($500,000 in 2013 and $800,000 in 2014)
Fayetteville, Arkansas—Picasolar, formerly known as Silicon Solar Solutions, developed a post-manufacturing hydrogen treatment to optimize the emitter of n-type solar cells resulting in improved conversion efficiency and reduced silver gridlines. The technology has shown 15% relative efficiency improvements while using one-third less silver grid lines in the lab. The goal of this project was to demonstrate the technology on commercial solar cells. In addition, Picasolar is developing a single step hydrogen treatment to optimize the emitter of n-type solar cells, resulting in improved conversion efficiency and reduced silver gridlines. The company has proven this technology on small area devices. During this award Picasolar will scale up its tool and process to handle commercial-sized solar cells.
Plextronics ($3,000,000 in 2007)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—PlexTronics pursued enabling the low-cost, high-volume manufacture of organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices for use as alternative energy sources by developing cells and modules with efficiencies greater than 5.8% and 3.5%, respectively, and lifetimes over 5000 hours. Final Report.
PrimeStar Solar ($2,678,400 in 2007)
Golden, Colorado—PrimeStar focused on developing commercial modules using the CdTe cell, for which NREL achieved the16.5% world record in the laboratory. Using this cell, PrimeStar was going to produce, on a pilot line, 60x120cm2 modules with competitive efficiencies. PrimeStar Solar has fabricated a 12.8% thin-film CdTe module, verified by NREL, in their 30 MW Colorado manufacturing line. They are increasing manufacturing capacity to 400 MW in Colorado and Michigan and have created hundreds of high-tech jobs. Final Report.
Princeton Power Systems ($1,000,000 in 2012)
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Princeton Power Systems is developing an inverter that regulates DC power from PV strings to 13.8kV AC without a grid side transformer. The inverter includes control algorithms to provide consistent power flow from the solar installation as well as grid support functions and advanced communications. This product represents a major step toward achieving the DOE goal of $0.10/W for power electronics costs with innovative transformer, switching bridge, and software control technologies.
Qado Energy, Inc. ($500,000 in 2012)
Summit, New Jersey
Qado is working to provide utilities and distributed generation developers a new decision support platform that enables them to quickly assess the technical impacts and commercial benefits of deploying distributed energy resources onto the grid.
QBotix, Inc. ($972,874 in 2012)
Menlo Park, California
QBotix is pioneering the use of robotics in the operation of solar power plants to reduce LCOE by 20%. The system enables 50% cost reduction in dual-axis tracking, high system reliability, and detailed power plant level data, and is compatible with all PV panels.
Rehnu, Inc. ($1,000,000 in 2012)
Tucson, Arizona—REhnu transitioned a new concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) technology, already proven in a University of Arizona prototype, to a low-cost form ready for commercial production. The technology uses large glass dish reflectors, each with a compact array of CPV cells at its focus. This makes it economical to build systems with an extended 40-year lifetime and maintain high power output by swapping in new cells as multijunction technology improves.
Renewable Power Conversion ($793,325 in 2011 amd $1,003,605 in 2013)
San Luis Obispo, California—RPC is developing an advanced PV inverter technology, enabling reduced levelized cost of electricity through maximized system efficiency and a true 25-year lifetime. In addition, RPC is developing an environmentally sealed inverter featuring plug-and-play installation and a maintenance-free lifetime equal to that of PV modules. The Macro-Micro is a modular 17-kW inverter that provides high system MPPT granularity and high system up time. Power is converted with a CEC efficiency of 98.5% and low-loss system intrafield power collection is accomplished at 600 Vac. This distributed multi-string inverter provides multi-megawatt PV projects with a low LCOE alternative to large central inverters.
SafeConnect Solar ($498,918 in 2014)
Honolulu, HI—SafeConnect Solar is building a prototype of its patent-pending device that pre-engineers hardware and software-based safety mechanisms into residential photovoltaic (PV) systems so that the system can be safely installed by non-specialized labor. SafeConnect's product reduces installation labor costs, will reduce customer acquisition, design, and permitting costs, and makes PV systems safer to install, own, and maintain.
Seeo ($317,536 in 2012)
Hayward, California—Seeo, in partnership with SunEdison, is developing an Energy Storage System (ESS) that pairs the breakthrough lifetime of Seeo's solid-state battery with a set of control analytics designed to optimize performance when operated alongside solar. This program combines a field demonstration with an evaluation of how financing mechanisms such as power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases can be employed to accelerate adoption of distributed PV with advanced energy storage.
Semprius ($3,000,000 in 2009)
Durham, North Carolina—Semprius developed CPV modules for use in utility-scale installations. Using the company's proprietary microtransfer printing technology, CPV modules are constructed from many very small, gallium-arsenide-based multijunction solar cells. The large number of cells improves reliability through redundancy, and the tiny size of the cells delivers thermal management at no extra cost. A high-concentration ratio minimizes module cost, and inexpensive optics concentrate sunlight onto the high-efficiency solar cells, which cover only 0.1% of the module area. The unique design, along with the novel manner of assembly, results in less-expensive modules. Source: Semprius website. Accessed September 2011. Final Report.
Simply Civic ($499,510 in 2012 and $400,000 in 2013)
Parker, Colorado—Simply Civic is streamlining management of permitting, inspection, and interconnection of solar energy systems through an innovative, modular online application available to every one of the 18,000 jurisdictions nationally. The tool will seamlessly enable jurisdictions and installers to track the status of solar projects in real-time while making it faster and simpler to process required paperwork.
Sinewatts ($499,735 in 2012)
Palo Alto, California—SineWatts Inverter Molecules form the smallest building blocks of a grid-supportive and highly reliable PV power plant. This industry-transforming architecture achieves dramatic miniaturization, complete semiconductor integration, and plant-level component elimination while meeting the DOE cost reduction targets.
Skyline Solar ($3,000,000 in 2008)
Mountain View, California—Skyline develops an integrated, lightweight, single-axis tracked CPV system that reflects and concentrates sunlight over 10 times onto silicon cells in order to deliver modules that exceed 12m2 area and 15% aperture-area efficiency. The innovation lies in the details of the design and in the way that it empowers an efficient, streamlined, and swiftly scalable approach to manufacturing operations, supply chain logistics, and installation.
SMASHsolar ($500,000 in 2013)
El Cerrito, California—SMASHsolar is working to break down barriers to solar by developing a proprietary, scalable PV mounting system that installs in half the time with half the parts and allows an array to easily expand over time. This project is developing and testing an integrated mounting system that shifts field work to the factory, resulting in a simplified installation process that drives down balance of systems costs. The product design will ultimately provide a refined and easy-to-use solar power product for homeowners.
Solar Census ($735,072 in 2013)
Walnut Creek, California—Solar Census is leveraging its patented algorithms to produce the first commercial-grade online shade tool that enables salespeople and system designers to customize PV systems in 3D and create highly accurate quotes in minutes. The software will streamline the sales and design process, reduce change orders and soft costs, and increase close rates and homeowner satisfaction.
Solaflect Energy ($999,595 in 2011 and $1,000,000 in 2012)
Norwich, Vermont—Solaflect is further developing and refining the design of its Suspension Heliostat™—a design that uses 60% to 65% less steel than a traditional design, significantly reducing the cost of the mirror field in a CSP plant. In addition, Solaflect Energy has developed a low-cost Suspension HeliostatTM that dramatically reduces steel usage by utilizing steel cables to stabilize mirror panels rather than steel truss structures. The project will focus on continued development of the heliostat design, design for robotic manufacture, reduction of manufacturing and installation labor requirements, and the transition to high volume commercialization. Final Report.
Solar Junction ($3,000,000 in 2009)
San Jose, California—Solar Junction is commercializing a revolutionary technology platform called A-SLAM™. The platform provides a tunable bandgap that maximizes the absorbed sunlight within CPV modules, increasing the module efficiency and the amount of energy harvested. The platform technology has been verified at 41.4% efficiency to date, and efficiencies are expected to rise beyond 50% within the decade. In addition, A-SLAM solar cells remain lattice-matched, which maintains the reliability of existing multijunction solar cells and should ensure a 25-plus year lifetime. CPV combines economies of manufacturing scale and increased efficiencies that can dramatically reduce both the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and the costs in terms of dollar per watt. Source: Solar Junction website. Accessed September 2011. Final Report.
Solasta ($2,721,564 in 2008)
Newton, Massachusetts—Solasta was working on a novel cell design based on an amorphous-silicon "nanocoax" structure that increases currents and lowers the materials cost by collecting light normal to the substrate (thick section) and transferring collected carriers laterally (thin section), effectively decoupling the optical and electronic pathways. Although the absorber material for this project was amorphous silicon, the technology is material non-specific, and further advances in efficiency and reductions in cost can be envisioned.
Solaria ($1,389,206 in 2007)
Fremont, California—Solaria was producing a non-tracking, cost-effective, standard module form factor with 2-3x concentration that can be manufactured in a reliable high-volume automated process that is based on a reliable PV-multiplying process that yields two to three highly efficient cells from one via solar cell singulation and optical amplification.
SolarNexus ($496,987 in 2013)
Oakland, CA—SolarNexus and its partners are working to integrate a range of software used for customer acquisition, system design, permitting, and monitoring -- resulting in the industry's first ecosystem of interoperable software applications. The integration of key functionality from separate software vendors will significantly eliminate data re-entry and enhance the productivity of solar professionals with a simplified software experience. The ecosystem will leverage the Integrated Energy Project model, an existing, publicly-available data standard for the transfer of solar project information.
Solexant ($1,000,000 in 2012)
San Jose, California—Using printable nanomaterial technologies exclusively licensed from leading universities, Solexant developed flexible solar cells drawing energy from the entire solar spectrum. CZTS (copper zinc tin selenide) nanoparticles are printed on flexible substrates, then sintered to produce high-efficiency-film solar cells at greatly reduced costs. These cells are made from abundant, inexpensive, and nontoxic materials. This technology has the potential to replace existing thin-film PV technologies, which rely on materials like indium that can be in scarce supply for large-scale domestic manufacturing.
Solexel ($3,000,000 in 2008)
Milpitas, California—Solexel is commercializing a disruptive, 3D high-efficiency mono-crystalline silicon cell technology that dramatically reduces manufacturing cost per watt by delivering a 15-17% efficient, 156x156mm2, single-crystal cell that consumes substantially lower silicon per watt than conventionally sliced wafers. Final Report.
SolFocus ($2,241,732 in 2007)
Palo Alto, California—SolFocus developed a 25%-plus efficient pilot-run production module and be on path to achieve a greater than 3 MW annual capacity for a 500x CPV module with a folded reflective design in a compact frame where the design can be manufactured in volume and scalable to GW capacity. SolFocus raised module efficiency from 17% to over 25%, automated module assembly using robotics, and accelerated reliability testing, increasing manufacturability and reducing costs. Final Report.
SoloPower ($2,167,223 in 2007)
Milpitas, California—SoloPower developed an electroplating-based, high-efficiency, low-cost CIGS cell and module manufacturing technology, where the advantages of this deposition technique include lower equipment costs, reduced processing times, and increased material utilization. By the end of the project, SoloPower demonstrated a roll-to-roll reaction fabrication process to create large-area solar modules with a demonstrated 10% aperture-area efficiency on a 1m2 CIGS module and 12% cell efficiencies on 100 cm2 cells (verified by NREL).
SpectraWatt ($500,000 in 2009)
Hillsboro, Oregon—SpectraWatt is exploring the use of low-cost films composed of absorbing and emitting nanomaterials to improve the performance of standard multicrystalline silicon solar cells. These films could improve the spectral response of solar cells without interfering with the behavior of the platform device. And because the added layer is not part of the active electrical device architecture, this coating approach is potentially applicable to all PV technologies. To date, a 0.5% absolute efficiency increase for factory-quality copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) mini-modules has been reproducibly demonstrated, along with a 1% absolute efficiency increase for prototype CdTe devices. This approach could require less-stringent design tolerances for the underlying cell structure and also increase manufacturing yields. Source: "SpectraWatt Selected for NREL Pre-incubator Funding," SpectraWatt press release. (June 2009). Final Report.
Spire Semiconductor ($2,960,850 in 2008)
Hudson, New Hampshire—Spire was to develop three-junction tandem solar cells that better optimize the optical properties of their device layers; the company is targeting cell efficiencies over 42% using a low-cost manufacturing method. Final Report.
Stion ($1,000,000 in 2011 and $2,000,000 in 2012)
San Jose, California—Stion developed a disruptive technology based on a tandem copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) module that uses a revolutionary thin-film design to enable broader and more effective harvesting of available light. The tandem module, which utilizes mechanically stacked top and bottom modules to avoid the design and manufacturing challenges associated with multijunction monolithic integration, enables 18% efficiency on full-size CIGS modules.
SunEdison formerly Solar Grid Storage ($968,120 in 2013)
Silver Spring, MD—Solar Grid Storage will develop a Solar Storage Operations Center (SSOC) to address the unique needs of managing grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) + storage assets. The SSOC will make it possible to bring together multiple storage sites and enhance grid stability with every new PV + storage resource installed, all the while reducing deployment costs. A scalable solution, the SSOC will help mitigate concerns about high-penetration PV deployment by enabling cost-effective control of residential, commercial, and utility-scale PV + storage systems.
Sunlayar Inc. ($384,000 in 2014)
Walnut Creek, CA—Sunlayar is developing a cloud-based software platform that utilizes augmented reality to decrease permitting, design and installation costs through the use of ground breaking visual computing technology. Sunlayar Augmented Reality Edition - as experienced through tablets and wearable tech - further simplifies the human-computer interactions necessary to drive Sunlayar's disruptive solar project lifecycle automation platform. This application will be able to pare down labor roles, and reduce the skill level and time required in the residential solar process through algorithmic business process automation.
Sun Number ($1,000,000 in 2013 and $402,050 in 2012)
Deephaven, Minnesota—Sun Number is analyzing rooftops to determine the best roofs and the best locations on roofs for solar. This data is used to create Sun Number Scores—a tool to educate consumers about the solar potential of their home. This data is combined with other data about the roof (i.e. age, material) and information about the owner of the building (i.e. behavioral modeling) to qualify properties and lower the cost of customer acquisition.
TetraSun ($3,000,000 in 2009)
Saratoga, California—TetraSun developed thin high-efficiency crystalline silicon cells using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) layers for back-surface passivation and contact to replace the standard screen-print-and-fire aluminum/silver back surface. This novel structure offers an alternative to the standard industry back-surface aluminum process, eliminating wafer bowing and allowing thinner cells (less than 160 microns) to be fabricated. A modified back surface for a crystalline silicon cell yields high efficiencies without adding processing steps. During Phase I part of this subcontract, more than 17% efficient 148 cm2 crystalline silicon was demonstrated and verified. On smaller areas, efficiencies exceeding 19% were seen. First Solar, which is one of the world's largest module makers, purchased TetraSun in 2013. Final Report.
Tigo Energy ($500,000 in 2012)
Los Gatos, California—Tigo Energy is developing innovative software for solar PV systems that will use module-level monitoring data to automate key steps in the commissioning process, analyze system performance characteristics, and optimize the scheduling of ongoing O&M activities. This will benefit installers, system owners, and operations personnel by enabling them to target service and maintenance precisely where and when it is needed, reducing up-front labor costs and helping provide the lowest levelized cost of energy. Final Report.
Tigo Energy ($3,026,000 in 2011)
Los Gatos, California—Tigo Energy is advancing to pilot production a new, low-cost, direct-current, arc-fault detector, which enhances the safety of PV arrays, reduces ongoing operations and maintenance costs for system owners, and complies with all applicable codes and standards for new and retrofit applications in residential, commercial, and utility-scale systems. Final Report.
TiSol, LLC ($499,100 in 2009)
Pasadena, California—TiSol worked on the development of a viable technology for thin-film deposition in open atmosphere, using a unique flame synthesis methodology, to reduce the cost and to increase the deployment of dye-sensitized solar cells through a reel-to-reel fabrication of layers within the dye cell.
Vanguard Solar ($500,000 in 2009)
Sudbury, Massachusetts—Vanguard worked on the development of a novel nanostructured II/VI semiconductor-based thin-film PV cell that will be an easily manufactured thin-film device with low cost and high efficiency.
Village Power Finance ($500,000 in 2014)
Palo Alto, CA—Village Power Finance is implementing an innovative web platform and app to streamline the project development, fundraising and asset management processes for the dramatically under-served commercial and non-profit markets. This highly scalable model will leverage the investment power of community members, institutional investors, and corporate investors, while generating environmental improvements and investment opportunities at the community scale.