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DOE SunShot Initiative Grants Five Labs $30M to Accelerate Development of Solar Materials

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As a part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative, several federal laboratories were granted $30 million to work together and accelerate the development and deployment of high-performance materials for photovoltaic modules that will lower the cost of electricity generated by solar power while increasing field lifetime.

The SunShot Initiative, started ten years ago by the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, focuses on making solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity. Five years into the initiative, SunShot is already exceeding expectations through its funding of cooperative R&D, demonstration, and deployment projects taking place through private companies, universities, nonprofits, national labs and other organizations. According to the Solar Energy Technologies Office, the solar industry is already more than 70% of the way to achieving the initiative’s cost target.

This new grant will go to funding the R&D of the Durable Module Materials National Lab Consortium (DuraMat) over the course of the next five years. The research team assigned to this project will be co-led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia). Berkeley Lab and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory will function as core partners of the project.

DuraMat will utilize the expertise and capabilities of the national labs involved to develop new solar materials for its module components.

Anubhav Jain, a researcher at Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area (ETA) who will manage the $1.36 million granted to Berkeley Lab for the next five years, sees great opportunity in accelerating the DuraMat technology.

“With DuraMat, we are going to leverage ‘material genome’ approaches to making solar power even more reliable and therefore more cost-competitive over the long term,” stated Jain. “We are going to focus on data management and analytics. This entails integrating information from materials and solar module datasets measured at multiple lengths and time scales—all the way from quantum simulations to real-world solar module performance in the field.”

Researcher Kristin Persson of ETA will also be on the leadership committee and guide the operation of DuraMat.

To learn more about this project and Berkeley Lab, click here.

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