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Grants Make the Difference in a Tight Lending Environment


4/4/2011 4:41 PM

The free-flowing venture capital of a few years ago has dried up.

Four or five years ago, "If you could spell the word 'solar,' venture capitalists would give you money," said Al-Jassim. No more.

Abound, SoloPower, and Calisolar are prime examples of what America needs: start-ups that can make high-efficient solar cells in a nonlabor-intensive way so America can compete with China and other countries in the manufacturing arena, say the NREL scientists involved in the PV Technology Incubator program.

The program wouldn't likely touch a company that proposes to make regular silicon solar cells, for example, because established companies already manufacturing these materials are trying to reduce costs. But if a company has a way to use a fraction of the usual amount of silicon, or simplify the manufacturing process, or use only abundant materials, then it can be a part of a growth-boom in U.S. energy jobs.