April 06, 2011
By: by Chris Fitz Gerald, The Troy Record
The Capital District may be receiving a well-needed economic jolt as it's potentially on its way to becoming a national hub for solar cell research.
The United States Department of Energy has awarded a $62 million grant that will help boost the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium, an Albany-based partnership led by the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, SEMATECH, and the University of Central Florida.
In addition, $57 million of the grant will be awarded directly to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering for the work that will be done in the Capital District.
"The future is very bright for solar energy research, development and jobs in Albany. With the awarding of this massive grant, the scientists and technicians at the College of Nanoscale Science at UAlbany will once again create the jobs of the future - today," U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said in a release.
With this federal funding, the partnership can massively increase the United States' share of the photovoltaic technology and products market, and potentially create millions of jobs over the next decade.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko has urged Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu to award the grant based on the new consortium's potential to drive the development of new solar manufacturing technologies in the United States and create new jobs.
"This grant is the final piece of the puzzle that will create a nationwide partnership between private industry and academia to push the envelope on solar power manufacturing," Tonko said. "This public investment has a huge potential to transform photovoltaic manufacturing in this country, increase our share globally of the solar power market, and create game changing technologies that we can export to the world - and most importantly, create good-paying middle class jobs right here in America."
The PVMC would focus on development of new manufacturing techniques and processes for photovoltaic products, which will help improve global competitiveness and help American companies gain a larger share of the world market for this fast growing renewable energy sector. The consortium has secured commitments to participate from more than 80 companies, high tech laboratories and universities, as well as $400 million in additional investments from state and private sources.
Solar photovoltaic technologies convert solar energy into useful energy forms by directly absorbing solar photons and either converting part of the energy to electricity or storing part of the energy in a chemical reaction. Solar photovoltaic technologies produce clean power from domestic renewable energy, provide sources of reliable solar power which are easier to build than conventional power plants, and boost the national economy by creating new solar companies and jobs of the future.