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eiXtra: published by NEMA (Image) Hot Topics
On the Hill/Around the Nation
International News
Monday, April 4, 2011
feature story
Photovoltaics (PV) Incubator Pushes Solar Innovations

NREL Principal Engineer Keith Emery prepares to load three-junction concentrator cells into NREL's High-Intensity Pulse Solar Simulator to test for efficiency.
To catapult America to the global lead in solar manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Energy is turning to small start-ups with the kind of disruptive technology that has the potential to lower costs dramatically.

The stale and the satisfied need not apply for the $1 million to $4 million subcontracts awarded through an aggressive photovoltaics (PV) incubator program prodding entrepreneurs to help the United States reach the DOE's SunShot Initiative goal of lowering the cost of utility-scale installations by about 75 percent to roughly $1 per watt by 2017.

But those with truly disruptive technologies that can greatly change solar-power economics will find eager, albeit stern, partners in the PV Technology Incubator program, an initiative of the DOE executed through its National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

By "disruptive" or "differentiated" technologies, scientists or business people are referring to new ways of doing things that overturn the traditional methods and practices, such as the steam engine in the age of sail or email in the age of post-office mail.

The DOE has provided $50 million to small businesses under the PV Technology Incubator program, which started in 2007. The businesses in turn have created more than 1,000 jobs in the United States and have the potential to raise solar-energy capacity in the United States from hundreds of megawatts to thousands of megawatts.

To date, 20 small businesses have been awarded PV Technology Incubator subcontracts, with DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program investing about $3 million per company.

The returns on taxpayer dollars have been amazing, said NREL's Martha Symko-Davies, the architect behind the PV Technology Incubator program. The private sector subsequently has invested nearly $2 billion in the companies selected for the PV Technology Incubator program, she said.

"It is even more impressive considering the recent difficult economic times faced by venture capitalists, making them much more selective about funding start-ups," she said. The $2 billion "provides clear evidence of the commercial value of these differentiated PV technologies."

The project represents a significant partnering with U.S. industry to help speed commercialization of PV research and development in the United States to meet the goals of the DOE SunShot Initiative.

"The object is to scale up capacity from prototypes to pilot scale in just 18 months," said Symko-Davies. "We target hard deliverables, firm-fixed price subcontracting. We want to make sure taxpayer money is well-utilized."

Also in this issue:

Learn more about solar research at NREL and the PV Technology Incubator.

Source: Bill Scanlon, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

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Hot Topics

SGIP Governing Board Moves Forward on Key Efforts to Advance Interoperability Standards Framework
The Governing Board of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) took steps
that will accelerate progress toward the long-term goal of an interoperable Smart Grid.

Battelle Licenses Grid Friendly™ Appliance Controller
Battelle has granted a non-exclusive license for a technology that will help soften the blow for utilities during times of peak demand on the grid by temporarily shifting when smart appliances use power.

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On the Hill/Around the Nation

NEMA Welcomes Rogers-Carnahan Legislation Promoting ITS Deployment
According to NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis, many ITS technologies available today are proven to reduce congestion and improve efficiency performance and safety on our highways and arterial roads.

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International News

Illuminex: Grow Your Business in India
Illuminex was previously known as Lighting South Asia and will showcase products and services from hundreds of domestic and international lighting industry players, attracting more than 8,000 specialist trade visitors from all over India. This event will focus on the Indian lighting industry, which is worth more than $1 billion. India is presently importing $250 million worth of lighting products, and the import rate is 25–30% per annum. The event will attract architects, designers, lighting manufacturers, construction companies, engineers, dealers, and distributors.

Join the Energy Efficiency Global Forum During the EU Energy Efficiency Week
Date: April 12–14, 2011
Location: Brussels, Belgium
The Energy Efficiency Global Forum (EE Global) will bring together high-level officials from the EU and U.S. governments, business, and NGOs to exchange ideas on the changing energy landscape. EE Global offers access to the latest innovations in energy efficiency, the people behind their implementation, and European and global policymakers and industry leaders.

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This episode of Vids 4 Grids will take us to Thomas & Betts' connector manufacturing factory in Hackettstown, NJ where we will learn the role connectors play in the Smart Grid.
This episode of Vids 4 Grids will take us to Thomas & Betts' connector manufacturing factory in Hackettstown, NJ where we will learn the role connectors play in the Smart Grid.

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