April 05, 2011
By: by Robin K. Cooper, The Business Review
Sen. Charles Schumer said the U.S. Department of Energy could announce in the next few weeks whether University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering will win a $100 million grant for solar cell research.
New York's senior senator visited CNSE Monday afternoon to push the school's proposal to create a $500 million Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium in conjunction with the University of Central Florida and Sematech, a consortium of computer chip makers and suppliers. Sematech is based at the nanocollege.
Alain Kaloyeros, CEO and senior vice president of CNSE, said the federal funds would allow the nanotechnology research center to become a national hub for solar research.
CNSE, which has teamed up with UCF and Sematech to apply for the $100 million federal grant, has commitments from more than 80 companies, universities and tech laboratories who plan to join the research effort if DOE picks Albany.
CNSE officials said the federal government received 20 applications from university groups around the country and the list of finalists was cut to three in January.
Schumer declined to say who the other competitors are.
CNSE, a $6.5 billion research center for nanotechnology, already has the infrastructure to support a solar research center, which involves much of the same technology, Kaloyeros said.
The center has created more than 2,500 jobs and led to partnerships with more than 250 companies in the past decade.
Creating a photovoltaic center here would add another application for the research, Kaloyeros said.
Schumer said GlobalFoundries, a contract computer chip maker which is building a $4.6 billion factory in nearby Saratoga County, would not be here if it was not for the nanotechnology research at CNSE.
"We know we can do the same with solar photovoltaic research," Schumer said.