Silfab Solar secures funds to develop US-made back-contact n-type PV cells

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From pv magazine USA

In recent weeks, the US government has announced loans and funding to bolster its domestic solar supply chain, which will also secure jobs, stimulate local economies and support national security interests.

Most recently, the DoE announced a $71 million investment, including $16 million from the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for research and development projects that seek to address early gaps in the solar supply chain. Silfab Solar is one of seven recipients of funding for projects that are intended to advance dual-use PV technologies to electrify buildings, decarbonize the transportation sector, and reduce land-use conflicts.

Silfab Solar, a Toronto-based solar cell and module manufacturer with a facility in South Carolina, was awarded $5 million for a project that will develop back-contact n-type cells to demonstrate efficiencies of 26% or better.

Silfab Solar is developing the cells on a 300 MW pilot line, which will operate alongside its main n-type cell manufacturing at its South Carolina facility.

The company said that the project will enable the rapid scale-up of cost-effective back-contact cell technology into high-volume production of its next line of solar modules.

The company said in September 2023 that it was investing $150 million in a cell manufacturing site in York County, South Carolina. It is expected to have an annual capacity of 1 GW of cell production and 1.2 GW of module production.

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The project won a $2 million Set-Aside grant by the Coordinating Council for Economic Development in York County.

The DoE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) also selected Silfab Solar for a separate innovation award to further develop high-efficiency building-integrated PV (BIPV) modules.

The modules feature opaque glass and can be used in glazed surfaces between the floors of commercial buildings, where transparent glass windows are not needed. The $500,000 project will be demonstrated at Silfab Solar’s plant in Washington.

“Silfab Solar is leading the way in US integration of innovative solar cells and modules by investing in the research and development that allows us to deliver the most advanced, powerful and reliable PV solar for commercial, residential and soon, BIPV customers,” said Silfab Solar President and CEO Paolo Maccario. “The DoE awards are a testament to Silfab’s commitment to innovation and to the strength of our engineering team to deliver significant advancements in solar technologies.”

The SETO program requires that its beneficiaries provide community benefits in the project locations. To that end, Silfab Solar has begun several efforts, including a series of workforce development initiatives and school outreach programs to encourage youth to consider careers in renewable energy.

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