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New Energy Department EMN Drives Advanced Materials for Solar Modules

The U.S. Department of Energy rolled out the new Durable Module Materials (DuraMat) National Lab Consortium led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). DuraMat is designed to accelerate the development and deployment of new, high performance materials for photovoltaic (PV) modules to lower the cost of electricity from solar power, while increasing field lifetime.

The consortium aims to bootstrap dependable, high-performance, low-cost PV module materials and architectures by:

  • Developing module technologies that to dramatically reduce the levelized cost of energy from solar power.
  • Encouraging active collaborations across national laboratories, academia, and industry to develop applications for advanced module materials.
  • Accelerate deployment of the most promising module materials and technologies in the market.

The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative plans to fund DuraMat at an estimated $30 million over five years. Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory will join NREL as collaborators in the consortium.

“DuraMat provides easily accessible capabilities that bring the national lab and university research infrastructure together with the PV and supply-chain industries,” said Teresa Barnes, a member of NREL’s Materials Science Center and the director for 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.”

EMN Opens Up Access to the Labs

This is the latest Energy Materials Network (EMN) consortium from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EMNs improve industry access to advanced materials innovation resources available at the Energy Department’s national labs.

As part of the EMN, the DuraMat consortium will focus on more quickly developing, characterizing, and deploying new materials and architectures to improve the value of PV modules for manufacturers, plant developers, financiers, and utilities.  These module materials account for 40 percent or more of the total PV module costs, so DuraMat will address substantial opportunities to lower the cost of durable, high-performance PV modules.

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About David Smith (18 Articles)
Contributing editor David Smith is a writer and marketing consultant focusing on clean technology. He has held creative and marketing executive positions in technology companies and marketing agencies, and has a background in journalism and electrical engineering. He has consulted with emerging start-ups and Fortune 500 companies on market positioning, branding and communications strategies. An EV enthusiast, he has spoken on B2B marketing and social media at a variety of industry events.

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