By Isabella Kaminski

The US Department of Energy has announced a US$50 million investment over two years for the SUNPATH (Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home) programme. It is the second solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative (PVMI) supporting the DoE’s SunShot Initiative.

SUNPATH aims to increase US solar domestic manufacturing through investments that have sustainable, competitive cost and performance advantages. SUNPATH will help companies with pilot commercial solar production projects scale up their manufacturing capabilities.

Steven Chu, US Energy Secretary, says: “This investment provides a necessary boost to domestic solar manufacturing businesses, encouraging them to keep jobs here and establish America’s leadership in the world's growing clean energy economy.”

The PVMI accelerates the cost reduction and commercialisation of solar technologies by coordinating solutions across industry. According to the DoE, the initiative will help create a robust, domestic PV manufacturing base in the US and develop a workforce with the critical skills required to deliver reliable, affordable, clean energy.

The first part of the PVMI project – Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships – resulted in $110m given to three industry and academic consortia to enable substantial cost reductions in PV module production. SUNPATH will support an initial ramp up to high volume manufacturing.

As part of SunShot, the DoE is currently seeking applicants with industrial-scale demonstrations of PV modules, cells or substrates that offer lower-cost solutions in line with the SunShot goal.