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DOE Plans to Support Solar PV Recycling Innovations



As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $52 million for 19 selected projects, including $10 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to strengthen America’s domestic solar supply chain and $30 million in funding for technologies that will help integrate solar energy into the grid. The research, development and demonstration projects aim to enhance domestic solar manufacturing, support the recycling of solar panels and develop new American-made solar technologies. Additionally, this significant investment will help promote cheaper, more efficient solar cells and advance cadmium telluride (CdTe) and perovskite solar manufacturing — two technologies vital to diversifying the solar supply chain.


Improving panel recycling through the Bipartisan Infrastructure LaEight projects to be selected for award negotiations because of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will focus on reducing the cost and increasing the efficiency of panel recycling processes. As solar deployment increases, the end-of-life of PV components needs to be considered. Although 95% of a PV module is recyclable, the current economics of managing panels at end-of-life are unfavorable to recycling, according to DOE’s recent report. Modules designed for recycling will increase the percentage of materials that can be recovered during the recycling process and re-sold into the market. Increasing the amount of recovered materials such as silver and copper means these materials can contribute to the domestic supply chain.


DOE has been a leader in CdTe research and launched, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and First Solar, a research consortium focused on making CdTe cells less expensive and more efficient.


Boosting domestic solar manufacturing. The projects in the Solar Manufacturing Incubator program will accelerate commercialization of innovative product ideas to boost the U.S. solar supply chain. Two projects, located in Ohio, will leverage $16 million in funding to test and demonstrate solutions for increasing the domestic manufacturing of CdTe PV technologies. The United States is the leader in CdTe technology, the second most common PV technology after silicon.

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