Solar research received a nice boost from Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Earth Day. The Department of Energy allocated $200 million for research and development of solar power and a variety of water power technologies. The funding is aimed less at discovering new innovations and more toward improving processes to accelerate the path to commercialization for promising technologies that already exist. The funding breaks down as follows.

PV Manufacturing Initiative

pv solar manufacturing

Up to $125 million over five years will go to “university-focused development” and “industry-focused development” of photovoltaic manufacturing. Both focal points will involve collaborative research projects designed to speed up manufacturing-related technologies.

PV Supply Chain Development

$40 million over three years will be geared toward “component and manufacturing technologies that show a strong potential to impact a substantial segment of the photovoltaic industry within two to five years.” That includes low-cost coating materials, electrical components, reducing manufacturing waste and equipment that improves the speed of manufacturing or installation.

National Administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network

solar instructorsThe DOE wants a national administrator to be a central coordinator for a national solar training network, and it’s willing to spend up to $4.5 million over the next five years to get it. The Solar Instructor Training Network, founded in 2009, is dedicated to creating well-trained, local personnel at the solar industry front line. This includes sales, design, installation, commissioning and inspection of residential solar electric and solar thermal systems.

Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) Technologies

Finally, a range of water power technologies will receive up to $39 million over four years. The goal is to advance the commercialization of affordable, renewable water power, including power from waves, currents, tides, free-flowing rivers or energy stored in ocean thermal gradients (changes in temperature between deep and shallow waters).

Photo Credit: Treehugger & DOE

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