We often hear about companies or universities developing much more advanced solar cells than are on the market today, but we often don't report on them because they may never see the light of day.
As part of the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, $12 million will be awarded to close the gap between research and the marketplace.
The funds will be awarded specifically to develop the most efficient solar cells possible.
In 1961, William Shockley and Hans Queisser published seminal research that demonstrates where the limit is for solar cells to convert sunlight into energy. Various solar technologies have edged closer to meeting this maximum level, about 30% for a single-junction solar cell.
This new initiative, the Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency II (FPACEII), aims to accelerate record-breaking conversion efficiencies that will close the gap with this theoretical limit for all kinds of PV cells, silicon-based and thin-film.
Accelerating breakthroughs in solar cell conversion efficiency will continue to bring down the total cost of solar energy and help the US get back its leadership position globally.
In 2011, the first wave of this program aimed to close the gap between efficiencies of best prototype cells achieved in the lab and the efficiencies of typical cells produced on manufacturing lines.
In the current solicitation, DOE seeks proposals from research teams that can develop solar cells that come close to the Shockley-Queisser limit.
The SunShot Initiative's goal is for solar energy to be cost competitive with fossil fuels by the end of this decade. It's inspiration comes from President Kennedy's "Moon Shot" program that put the first man on the moon.
Some of its recent funding rounds would combine concentrating solar with fossil fuel plants, streamline the solar permitting process and design plug-and-play solar PV residential systems that can be purchased, installed, and operational in one day.
For more information on this funding opportunity: