Georgia Tech Start-up Suniva Earns Second $2.3 M U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Award

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Georgia Tech Start-up Company, Suniva Inc. a solar cell manufacturer was awarded $2.3 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and manufacture an advanced crystalline silicon solar cell technology capable of converting more than 22 percent of the available energy into electrical power. The state-of the-art silicon cells currently perform at 18-20 percent efficiency. The grant is part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, which is focused on accelerating the development of cost-competitive solar technologies.

Suniva Inc., in collaboration with Georgia Tech Research Corporation, plans to develop n-type solar cells, which are more conducive for large-scale power production than the commonly used p-type silicon solar cells, due to properties such as higher tolerance to common transition metal impurities, and resistance to light-induced degradation.

“The goal is to achieve greater efficiency and lower manufacturing costs by a combination of revolutionary technologies, innovative cell design and novel concepts that can produce solar cells at the right intersection of costs and efficiency,” said Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, Suniva founder and Director of Georgia Tech’s University Center University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP).

This is the second competitive grant awarded to Suniva through the SolarMaT program which is administered by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) within the Energy Department. The current project aims to develop the high-efficiency, n-type solar cells using high volume low-cost manufacturing based on a new disruptive technology. This technology will improve the total energy yields from solar panels enabling a significant reduction in the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) consistent with SunShot program objectives.

“In the past, solar power technologies have occupied niche markets due to cost and the lack of available infrastructure,” said Strategic Energy Institute Executive Director Tim Lieuwen. “But technological and manufacturing innovations such as these have brought the efficiency and cost of photovoltaic solar within striking distance of grid parity.”

Under Rohatgi’s leadership, Suniva has become an internationally-recognized leader in the research, development and manufacturing of high-efficiency, low-cost crystalline silicon cells, using a unique technology that evolved from his work at UCEP. Headquartered in Norcross, Ga., the company holds a large portfolio of granted and pending patents developed by Rohatgi, UCEP and Suniva's own R&D team, and has shipped more than 500 MW of solar cells and modules globally since its inception.




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