As part of its remit to lower the cost of solar technology, the SunShot Initiative has set up the Solar Manufacturing Technology (SolarMat) program, which intends to support "innovative, but commercially and technically viable" solar manufacturing technology.
By providing up to $15 million in funding, SolarMats goal is to support those technologies that can make a "significant market or manufacturing impact in 1 to 4 years," with a primary focus on cost reduction and efficiency gains. Both photovoltaics and concentrating solar power will be focused on.
With regards to photovoltaics, the proposed technologies must address three areas: (i) how they differentiate from what is already available; (ii) how they affect key manufacturing metrics at the photovoltaic module level; and (iii) how these translate into cost per Watt cost reductions.
Meanwhile, under the Solar Rooftop Challenge II program, DOE has made up to $12 million available in order to both eliminate market barriers and lower photovoltaic system soft costs, including permitting, licensing and grid connection.
There are two areas to focus on: Wide-Impact Awards; and State and Regional-Impact Awards. "Applicants will be expected to have already demonstrated exceptional progress towards achieving soft cost reductions in specific geographic areas, and must present a credible plan to build on these successes by rapidly deploying techniques and tools to achieve larger-scale impact on solar PV markets," states DOE.
In December 2011, DOE also announced $12 million of funding for the its first Solar Rooftop Challenge.