SunShot National Laboratory Multiyear Partnership (SuNLaMP) – Photovoltaic Subprogram – FY16-18

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The SunShot National Laboratory Multiyear Partnership (SuNLaMP) funding program enables our country’s national laboratories to

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address the most impactful barriers to the advancement of photovoltaic (PV) technologies. Research at these labs has advanced key PV technologies and has enabled the solar industry to grow. The work of the national laboratories continues to be instrumental in accelerating progress towards and addressing the most critical barriers to achieving the SunShot goals.

SuNLaMP awards also go to teams working in systems integration, technology to market, soft costs, and concentrating solar power research areas. Learn more about the SuNLaMP awards in other subprograms.

Approach

The photovoltaics (PV) focus area of SuNLaMP funds R&D to advance PV cell and module technology as well as prediction of PV module and system performance. These advances lower material and process costs, increase efficiency, improve the reliability, and increase bankability of PV modules to reduce costs and increase deployment of solar energy systems.

Objectives

The SuNLaMP PV projects advance solar technologies and help to reduce the cost of solar energy by focusing on PV module components, performance, reliability, and testing.

Awardees

Project: Performance Models and Standards for Bifacial PV Module Technologies
Location: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $3,000,000
Principal Investigator: Joshua Stein
Project Summary: Bifacial PV technology is available today, but due to its more complex light collecting dynamics, its performance advantages have not been fully exploited and no commonly-available tools allow it to be considered for major PV projects beyond current niche applications. Common sense and unpublished field data indicate that this technology has the potential to increase system outputs by 10%-30%.  The project will provide the data, standard test methods, and validated models to allow developers to fairly evaluate the potential benefits bifacial PV technologies for specific projects. 

Project: Addressing Soiling: From Interface Chemistry to Practicality
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $6,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Lin Simpson
Project Summary: Natural soiling has reduced the energy output of PV systems since the inception of the technology. Soiling is a complex problem that increases uncertainty and drives up the levelized cost of energy through lost energy production, increased operation and maintenance costs, and financing rates. For this project, NREL will develop a predictive soiling model and a soiling rate map of the U.S. based on the available and, if necessary, additionally collected data and use it to provide O&M guidance to industry.

Project: Degradation Assessment of Fielded CIGS Photovoltaic Module Technologies  
Location: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $3,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Bruce King
Project Summary: Conducted at the Regional Test Centers, this project will reduce the uncertainties surrounding long-term reliability and performance of CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) PV by measuring real-world performance and degradation rates of fielded CIGS systems and by publishing accurate, predictive performance models.

Project: Reducing PV Performance Uncertainty by Accurately Quantifying the “PV Resource”
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,500,000
​Principal Investigator: Manajit Sengupta
Project Summary: This project uses an innovative approach to develop PV Resource data that will open new opportunities for significantly higher accuracy in PV performance prediction and assessment. The work will provide more accurate irradiance data by testing different types of sensors to determine the most consistent and reliable measurement technologies, while also improving satellite-derived irradiance data.

Project: PV Risk Reduction through Quantifying In-Field Energy
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $4,500,000
​Principal Investigator: Chris Deline
Project Summary: This project will develop standardized methods for determining degradation factors, which will reduce the perceived and actual financial risk associated with PV deployment. In addition, partially shaded PV system performance models will be validated and added to PV simulation software used by installers, increasing the accuracy of performance prediction. The project will also expand the geographically diverse PV performance database using the microinverter data.

Project: Improving PV Performance Estimates in the System Advisor Model with Component and System Reliability Metrics
Location: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $600,000
​Principal Investigator: Geoffrey Klise
Project Summary: This project will improve the forecasting of lifetime PV system performance and operations and maintenance costs by incorporating the Photovoltaic Reliability and Performance Model (PV-RPM) developed by Sandia into the widely-used Solar Advisor Model (SAM) software platform. 

Project: Advanced Thermal Management for Higher Module Power Output
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,816,911
​Principal Investigator: Ingrid Repins
Project Summary: This project will enable lower operating temperatures for modules resulting in higher module power output and lower levelized cost of electricity. This will be completed by developing a thermal model for PV modules and modified passive cooling packaging to lower the module temperature when overheated.

Project: Scientific Approach to Reducing PV Module Material Costs While Increasing Durability
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,500,000
​Principal Investigator: Nick Bosco
Project Summary: This project will develop metrics to quantify the performance, safety, and reliability of encapsulants and backsheets at both the material and module level. This includes identifying the material properties that govern their performance degradation, developing the metrics to quantify these properties, surveying historically deployed modules to obtain a threshold value for these properties, and conducting outdoor and indoor accelerated exposure tests to analyze the kinetics of degradation and develop physics-based models that describe the degradation.

Project: From Modules to Atoms: Increasing Reliability/Stability of Commercially Relevant PV Technologies
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $5,998,946
​Principal Investigator: Steve Johnston
Project Summary: The project will study reliability-related defects in major PV technologies that include silicon (Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) using imaging and microscopy characterization tools along with multi-physics modeling to derive the causes of power-limiting defects that are responsible for potential-induced degradation in Si, meta-stability and transient degradations in CdTe, and increased-degradation due to reverse-bias breakdown in CIGS. This project will draw on module samples to develop predictive degradation models and improved testing protocols.

Project: Overcoming Bottlenecks to Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Si PV and Industrially Relevant, Ion Implanted, Interdigitated Back Passivated Contact Cell Development
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $9,999,235
​Principal Investigator: Pauls Stradins
Project Summary: This project will enable high-throughput, lower-cost, higher-efficiency silicon PV by advancing interdigitated back contact (IBC) n-Cz silicon cells, targeting 23% efficient cells. This includes the development of non-proprietary high-efficiency Si PV technology, which would reduce the barriers for companies to have high-efficiency Si cells.

Project: Mechanically Stacked Hybrid PV Tandems
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $999,999
​Principal Investigator: Kirstin Alberi
Project Summary: This project will develop a gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) on silicon mechanically stacked voltage-matched tandem, aiming at low cost and high efficiency. The project will result in one of the first published demonstrations of voltage-matched modules, an assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the new architecture, and its promise for PV module design.

Project: Silicon-Based Tandem Solar Cells
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,500,000
​Principal Investigator: Adele Tamboli
Project Summary: The project will demonstrate bonded gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) on silicon tandem cells, evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of this method of forming higher-efficiency tandem cells, and compare two- and three-terminal device configurations.

Project: Enabling High Concentration Photovoltaics with 50% Efficient Solar Cells
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $8,000,000
​Principal Investigator: John Geisz
Project Summary: This project will push the limits of high-concentration III-V multi-junction solar cell technology by designing and building five and six-junction solar cells that can exceed 50% efficiency under concentrator standard testing conditions. The project aims to develop new physical understanding and break the worldwide PV efficiency records.

Project: High-Efficiency, Low-Cost, One-Sun, III-V Photovoltaics
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $4,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Aaron Ptak
Project Summary: This project will continue development of hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE) growth coupled with novel epitaxial liftoff strategies toward low-cost multi-junction III-V photovoltaics. Researchers will develop three technology paths for wafer cost mitigation.

Project: Defining the Defect Chemistry and Structural Properties Required for 24%-Efficient CdTe Devices
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $6,900,000
​Principal Investigator: Wyatt Metzger
Project Summary: This project will improve the defect chemistry and structural properties of polycrystalline CdTe necessary to overcome photovoltage barriers and enable 24% efficiency. This project will advance the use of doping in polycrystalline CdTe and improve the way that the CdTe community passivates and characterizes grain boundaries. New dopants, new post-processing methods, and new characterization tools and models will be developed and novel CdTe device architectures will be explored.

Project: Interface Science and Engineering for Reliable, High Efficiency CdTe
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $4,900,000
​Principal Investigator: Teresa Barnes
Project Summary: Surface and interface recombination become more detrimental to CdTe device performance as lifetime increases. This project will develop effective surface passivation for CdTe and carrier selective contacts for higher efficiency, improved reproducibility, and increased stability.

Project: Manufacturing and Reliability Science for CIGS Photovoltaics
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $4,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Ingrid Repins
Project Summary: This project aims to overcome the largest challenges to investor confidence and long product lifetime in CIGS: meta-stability, potential-induced degradation, and shading-induced hot spots. This project will develop CIGS cells with a thin absorber layer that will have cost and reliability advantages due to higher reverse breakdown currents. In addition, the project will improve reliability of CIGS to the level of silicon by quantifying and developing mitigation strategies for meta-stability and potential-induced degradation in CIGS devices.

Project: Hybrid Perovskite Solar Cells
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $4,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Joseph Berry
Project Summary: This project will demonstrate efficient, stabile, and scalable hybrid perovskite solar cells (HPSCs), rapidly transforming these new materials into an industry-relevant technology. The team will advance HPSC technology by improving the stability, efficiency, and scalability of perovskites.

Project: Rapid Development of Disruptive PV Technologies
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Andriy Zakutayev
Project Summary: This project aims to demonstrate potentially-disruptive, novel PV absorbers by developing proof-of-concept PV device prototypes composed of defect-tolerant inorganic thin film oxide/nitride absorbers. “Defect tolerance” is the tendency of a semiconductor to maintain good transport and doping properties despite the presence of crystallographic defects and is a key property of promising PV materials. The project will use the rapid development approach, which combines high-throughput theory with accelerated experiments to rapidly optimize materials and architectures.

Project: Utilizing Emergent Material Properties and Novel Device Architectures for Advancing Organic PV
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Ross Larsen 
Project Summary: This project will design and develop efficient, stable, and inexpensive organic photovoltaics. It will also make the NREL organic photovoltaic database available to the public and add contributions to simulation and stability of organic PV compounds.

Project: High-Resolution Investigations of Transport Limiting Defects and Interfaces in Thin-Film PV Devices
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Helio Moutinho
Project Summary: This project will develop a capability of high-resolution transport imaging in PV devices, which is useful for improving polycrystalline thin-film PV materials.

Project: Correlative Electronic Spectroscopies for Increasing PV Efficiency
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Darius Kuciauskas
Project Summary: The project will develop fast, no-contact optical metrology methods to detect optically active defects in thin-film PV materials and map recombination velocities at shallow interfaces. These techniques will speed up the diagnostics and optimization of thin-film PV absorber materials and interfaces.

Project: Cell and Module Performance Characterization
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $9,000,000
​Principal Investigator: Keith Emery
Project Description: The project supports the cell and module measurement lab, which provides the only recognized, accredited efficiency measurements in the U.S. for the PV industry, and provides direct support to all SunShot programs through independent efficiency measurements and reference cell calibrations.

Project: Support of International PV Module Quality Assurance Task Force (PVQAT)
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $10,055,000
​Principal Investigator: John Wohlgemuth
Project Description: This project supports NREL involvement in PVQAT to develop the international test standards necessary to validate the quality of PV modules and determine service lifetimes. The project will improve the quality of PV modules, implement a conformity assessment system for PV power plants to meet the requirements of international standards, and develop and implement a rating system to ensure durable design of PV modules.

Project: Regional Test Center Operations
Location: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $6,999,432
​Principal Investigator: Joshua Stein
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,250,000
​Principal Investigator: Chris Deline
Project Description: The Regional Test Center (RTC) program aims to support technical innovation in the U.S. solar sector by validating the performance of new PV products in multiple climates. Sandia manages four and NREL one of the five RTC sites, which represent a range of irradiance, temperature, and precipitation averages. This project supports the operation, maintenance, and management of the four sites and provides the opportunity to add new collaborative projects with industry partners across the RTCs.

Project: 2D Materials for Low Cost Epitaxial Growth of Single Sun Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) PV
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $125,000
​Principal Investigator: Andrew Norman
Project Description: The project will develop low-cost two-dimensional material substrates to template the growth of GaAs.

Project: Stable Perovskite Solar Cells via Chemical Vapor Deposition
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $125,000
​Principal Investigator: Craig Perkins
Project Description: The project will enable significantly more stable perovskites grown by a scalable chemical vapor deposition method without halides or iodine, which are the main contributors to perovskite degradation.

Project: PV Stakeholder Engagement Initiatives
Location: Sandia National Lab, Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $89,000
​Principal Investigator: Joshua Stein
Project Description: The project will support Sandia’s engagement in International Energy Agency PVPS Task 13, PV Performance Modeling Collaborative (PVPMC), and UL, IEC and NEC committee work.

Project: National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) Community Engagement
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $999,775
​Principal Investigator: Sarah Kurtz
Project Description: This project will support NCPV educational and outreach activities, such as HOPE, Hands-On PV Experience for students.

Learn more about SunShot's other PV funding programs.