Photo of a solar panel array with overlay text "Photovoltaics Research and Development (PVRD)"

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Fiscal Year 2022 Photovoltaics Research and Development (PVRD) funding program supports projects that reduce costs and supply chain vulnerabilities, further develop durable and recyclable solar technologies, and advance perovskite photovoltaic (PV) technologies toward commercialization. Of the $28 million awarded for this funding program, $10 million will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to increase the reuse and recycling of solar energy technologies.

On July 14, 2022, DOE announced $29 million in funding for PVRD. SETO announced the selection of 10 projects on April 20, 2023.


These projects are designed to reduce costs, extend module lifetimes, and enable efficient recovery of materials for reuse and recycling of PV modules. This will be accomplished through the development of alternative methods to add metal contacts to solar modules (known as metallization), alternative metal contact materials, and easier separation of components. Projects will also develop commercially-relevant methods to fabricate durable, efficient perovskite modules that can help scale U.S. solar energy manufacturing capacity.

Projects fall under two topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Low-Cost Solutions to Reduce Environmental Burden and Materials Supply Chain Vulnerability
    • These projects work to reduce the use of precious metals like silver in solar modules, develop designs and materials separation techniques for PV recycling, which will result in a more resilient supply chain, and lower the environmental impacts of PV modules entering the waste stream.
  • Topic Area 2: Durable, High-Efficiency Perovskite Modules
    • Projects in this topic improve coordination amongst U.S. perovskite researchers and the PV industry by forming multi-stakeholder teams to overcome the barriers to perovskite commercialization, including increasing the stability of the perovskite materials and manufacturing larger devices.


These projects support increased solar energy deployment to meet the Biden administration’s goal of a decarbonized electricity sector by 2035 by decreasing the cost of PV technology and building a robust domestic supply chain. They also minimize the environmental impact of PV modules that reach the end of their service lifetimes by improving reuse and recycling of materials.


-- Award and cost share amounts are rounded and subject to change pending negotiations --

Topic Area 1: Low-Cost Solutions to Reduce Environmental Burden and Materials Supply Chain Vulnerability

Electroninks Incorporated 

Project Name: Metal Complex Inks for Low-Cost Photovoltaic Material Metallization
Location: Austin, TX 
DOE Award Amount: $750,000
Awardee Cost Share: $200,000
Principal Investigator: Michael Abney
Project Description: This project explores the use of new metal inks for adding conductive metal contacts to solar cells, a process known as metallization. These new metal inks could provide a cheaper metallization method that is compatible with multiple common solar cell technologies, including silicon, cadmium telluride, and perovskites. Copper-based inks developed by the team can significantly decrease the cost of cells.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Project Name: Development of Commercial-Ready Screen-Printed 23% Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) and Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact (TOPCON) Cells by Replacing Silver Contacts with Novel Low-Cost Copper and/or Aluminum Pastes
Location: Atlanta, GA
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $375,000
Principal Investigator: Ajeet Rohatgi
Project Description: Currently, the silver metal contacts added to silicon solar cells account for 30% or more of the total cell cost, due to the high, volatile price of silver and large amounts needed. This project aims to replace the silver in solar cell electrical contacts with copper and/or aluminum by developing new copper- and aluminum-based metal pastes that can be screen-printed onto silicon solar cells. These new pastes could reduce the cost of adding metal contacts to the cell by 50% and are compatible with several common silicon solar cell technologies, such as Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) and Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact (TOPCON) cells. The team aims to fabricate silicon solar cells with copper and aluminum contacts with an efficiency of at least 23%, comparable to commercially used silicon cells.


Project Name: PV Module Supply Chain Traceability Standards and Technology for Reuse and Recycling
Location: Chicago, IL
DOE Award Amount: $750,000
Awardee Cost Share: $200,000
Principal Investigator: Alicia Farag
Project Description: The project is developing standards for tracing solar modules through the entire supply chain from raw material manufacturing through end-of-life management, with a specific focus on recycling and reusing the materials in the module. This new standard will be tracked with a durable barcode applied to modules that will allow all stakeholders along the supply chain to retrieve data and register events through the module’s entire lifecycle, modeled after traceability standards developed in other industries. Solar asset owners and recyclers will be able to retrieve information on manufacturer, module design, structure, dimensions, and material content to inform recycling and reuse decisions and processes. Manufacturers and asset owners will also be able to track and register the reuse and recycling of their assets to support sustainability goals.

Solarcycle, Inc.

Project Name: Maximization of Recovery of Key Materials from End-of-Life Photovoltaic Panels
Location: Oakland, CA
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $1 million
Principal Investigator: Suvi Sharma
Project Description: Solar panels are made with valuable resources such as silver, copper, and high-purity silicon that are lost if these materials are not recovered at the end of the panel’s lifecycle. This project aims to recover key materials with high purity by developing a mechanical method to concentrate the materials, followed by an environmentally friendly chemical process to recover them.

University of California Berkeley

Project Name: Porous Aromatic Frameworks as Multifunctional Adsorbents for Selective Metal Recovery from Spent Photovoltaic Materials
Location: Berkeley, CA
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $375,000
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Long
Project Description: This project team is developing materials to selectively remove a variety of component metals from solar photovoltaic panels for reuse and recycling. These low-cost, porous materials can be used in different membranes that will each recover a particular metal from PV waste, including toxic materials like lead and iron and rare materials like indium and silver. The team will collaborate with industry to scale-up and test these membranes on actual PV waste streams.

University of California San Diego 

Project Name: PV Packaging Designed for Circularity
Location: La Jolla, CA
DOE Award Amount: $1 million
Awardee Cost Share: $250,000
Principal Investigator: David Fenning
Project Description: This project is developing new materials to layer between the solar cell itself and the outer layers of the solar module that can be “unzipped” to easily disassemble the module into its component materials for reuse and recycling. These novel materials will be stable under the regular operational conditions of a solar module but can be liquified with a mild treatment at the end of the module’s lifecycle, allowing the module to be opened with minimal mechanical stress and preserving the materials inside for separation and reuse. This process is reversible, so damaged or degraded solar modules could be opened, repaired, and resealed for further operation. The materials are compatible with multiple currently used and emerging solar PV technologies.

University of Central Florida 

Project Name: Photonic Curing of Printed Copper Contacts for High Efficiency and Low-Cost Silicon Heterojunctions
Location: Orlando, FL
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $400,000
Principal Investigator: Kristopher Davis
Project Description: This project is developing a new process for adding copper metal electrical contacts to silicon solar cells. Currently, these contacts are made with silver. Since copper is cheaper and more abundant than silver, this process has the potential to dramatically lower the cost of silicon solar cells and make the supply chain more resilient. This new process uses a laser to print lines of a copper solution onto the silicon layer. The process is potentially scalable, uses less material and energy than silver-based methods, and occurs at a low temperature so that the silicon layer is not affected.

University of Kansas

Project Name: Recycling of End-of-Life Solar Panels using Near-critical Fluids and Ozone
Location: Lawrence, KS
DOE Award Amount: $1.3 million
Awardee Cost Share: $325,000
Principal Investigator: Bala Subramaniam
Project Description: To recycle solar cells, several layers of sealant must be removed from the outside of the cell before reaching the valuable materials on the inside. Current methods to remove these layers use harsh chemical processes or mechanical crushing, which can cause significant damage or loss of these materials. This project team is developing a new process using carbon dioxide and ozone treatment to remove these layers and separate out the valuable recyclable materials in cadmium telluride solar cells. This can help maximize the quantity and quality of the recyclable materials.

Topic Area 2: Durable, High-Efficiency Perovskite Modules

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Project Name: Center for Co-Design of Durable, Reproducible, and Efficient Perovskite Tandems
Location: Cambridge, MA
DOE Award Amount: $9 million
Awardee Cost Share: $2.25 million
Principal Investigator: Tonio Buonassisi
Project Description: This center brings together industry (CubicPV and Verde Technologies) and academic partners (University of California, San Diego and Princeton University) to design, build, and test commercially relevant tandem solar modules. These tandem modules will combine two different PV materials: silicon, the current market leader, and perovskites, a promising new technology. The project team is researching efficient, large-area module designs and commercially-relevant manufacturing methods. They will use high-throughput deposition techniques, machine learning, and root cause analysis to optimize these module designs and manufacturing methods. They will also perform durability testing on the modules, with a goal of a predicted lifetime of at least 25 years. The team will also engage external stakeholders to ensure they are meeting market needs and maximizing chances for benefits such as workforce development as this technology progresses.

University of Colorado Boulder 

Project Name: TEAMUP: Tandems for Efficient and Advanced Modules using Ultrastable Perovskites
Location: Boulder, CO
DOE Award Amount: $9 million
Awardee Cost Share: $3.2 million
Principal Investigator: Michael McGehee
Project Description: This project team is designing and building tandem solar cells—which contain both silicon and perovskite PV materials—comparing two different manufacturing methods for the perovskite layer to minimize cost and maximize efficiency and durability. The center consists of four universities (University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State University, Northwestern University, UC Merced), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and three American perovskite companies (Beyond Silicon, Swift Solar, and Tandem PV). These stakeholders are working together to scale up small area devices made in university labs to large, commercially relevant devices while minimizing efficiency loss, with a target of 28% efficiency in the large-scale devices. The team will also use accelerated lifetime testing to ensure that the modules will have a lifetime of at least 25 years.

Learn more about the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s photovoltaics research, funding programs, and open funding opportunities.