The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) – in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory – will form a new consortium intended to accelerate the development of module materials for solar photovoltaics and lower the cost of electricity generated by solar.
The Durable Module Materials (DuraMat) National Lab Consortium will receive approximately $30 million over five years from the DOE’s SunShot Initiative.
Teresa Barnes from NREL’s Materials Science Center will be the director for DuraMat. Anthony Martino of Sandia National Laboratories will be the deputy director.
“DuraMat provides easily accessible capabilities that bring the national lab and university research infrastructure together with the PV and supply-chain industries,” Barnes said. “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.”
In February, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy launched the Energy Materials Network (EMN), an initiative crafted to give U.S. entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global race for clean energy.
According to NREL, EMN focuses on tackling one of the major barriers to widespread commercialization of clean energy technologies – namely, the design, testing and production of advanced materials. By strengthening and facilitating industry access to the unique scientific and technical advanced materials innovation resources available at the DOE’s national labs, the network will help industry bring these materials to market more quickly, the lab says.
With module materials already accounting for 40% or more of the total PV module costs, DuraMat will address the substantial opportunities that exist for durable, high-performance, low-cost materials for module components, says NREL.