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DOE Pledges $200M For Solar, Water Technologies

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the federal government will invest more than $200 million over five years to expand and accelerate the development, commercialization, and use of solar and water power technologies.

The funding pledge illustrates the White House's commitment to foster a robust clean-energy sector and create American manufacturing jobs and a workforce with the needed training to speed the implementation of cutting-edge technologies.

"Expanding the U.S. clean-energy manufacturing base is an important part of the Administration's goals to diversify electricity supply options, increase national security, and accelerate green jobs development," said Chu in a press statement.

The investments include:

A Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative, estimated to cost up to $125 million over five years. The money will be spent on manufacturing-focused research projects/ Funding will be available for applicants in two topic areas: University-Focused Development and Industry-Focused Development. Both topics will consider collaborative research models to accelerate manufacturing-related technologies and provide maximum leverage to federal funding.

A Photovoltaic Supply Chain Development slated to receive $40 million over three years. This funding is focused on identifying and accelerating unique products or processes for the photovoltaic manufacturing supply chain that will have a major impact on the industry. The projects will help meet the department's goal of achieving cost-competitive solar PV systems compared with conventional forms of electricity, and accelerating and facilitating the widespread implementation of solar technology.  The department is seeking projects focused on component and manufacturing technologies that show a strong potential to impact a substantial segment of the photovoltaic industry within two to five years. Examples include engineering lower cost coating materials, electrical components to improve performance, processes that reduce manufacturing waste, or equipment that dramatically improves manufacturing or installation speed.
The DOE plans to select both large and small companies that can quickly develop new photovoltaic supply chain solutions. The department anticipates that approximately $10 to $15 million annually will be available to fund these PV supply chain projects. Applications are due July 2, 2010.

A National Administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network that will receive $4.5 million over five years. This funding opportunity will select a national administrator that will act as a central coordinating body for the Training Network. The network was created in 2009, by the DOE to establish high-quality, local and accessible training for personnel involved in the sales, design, installation, commissioning and inspection of solar photovoltaic and solar heating and cooling systems. Awards were made to nine regional resource and training providers. The National Administrator will manage the collaboration of the Training Network members, disseminating their products and conducting other outreach efforts such as providing recommendations for the adoption of best practices. The selected organization will also serve as a national point of contact for the Training Network and will work with a broad set of stakeholders to define, prioritize and address issues related to solar training and workforce development. Applications are due June 15, 2010.

Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies will receive up to $39 million over four years. The department will accelerate the technological advancement and commercial readiness of emerging water power technologies that can produce renewable, cost-competitive electricity by harnessing the energy of waves, currents, tides, and free-flowing rivers, or energy stored in ocean thermal gradients. The DOE will use "technology readiness levels" a tool that has been effectively used by numerous companies and federal agencies to measure and compare the maturity of evolving technologies, to evaluate and select projects.

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