Solar panels continue to get better, more durable and longer lasting. But they can still get better. That’s why the national labs are forming a new consortium, the Durable Module Materials (DuraMat) National Lab Consortium, to develop and improve durable solar photovoltaic (PV) materials that also help lower the cost of solar power. The consortium is funded with roughly $30 million from the SunShot Initiative over the next five years.
Currently, solar panels account for about 40 percent of solar system’s cost. Just a few years ago the solar panels made up more 60 percent of a solar system’s costs. Now the DuraMat consortium aims to further reduce those costs as part of the SunShot Initiative’s goal to reduce the cost of electricity from solar power to 6 cents per kilowatt hour. With the price of solar dropping from 21 cents per kilowatt hour when the initiative launched in 2011 to 11 cents per kilowatt hour, the Energy Department said earlier this year that it is 70 percent of the way to achieving the goals.
"DuraMat provides easily accessible capabilities that bring the national lab and university research infrastructure together with the PV and supply-chain industries," said NREL Materials Science Center’s Teresa Barnes, director of DuraMat. "Our research strategy integrates data analytics, module durability testing, prototyping, predictive modeling, field deployment, materials discovery, materials forensics, and technology transfer to accelerate module material development and reduce the cost of electricity from photovoltaics."
The DuraMat consortium is part of the Energy Department’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) initiative, which is designed to give US “entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global race for clean energy,” according to NREL. The consortium consists of the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
Through the consortium, the labs will provide their unique expertise and capabilities to industry and academia. The goal, according to NREL, is to quickly develop, characterize, and deploy new materials and architectures to improve the value of solar panels throughout the solar industry from manufacturers to utilities, developers and financiers.
NREL will host a workshop on Oct. 10 and 11, to discuss the opportunity, the EMN and the program objectives. People, companies and universities can register for the workshop for free.Tweet