DOE awards PPG $2.1 million to help automate PV manufacturing

ppgThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded PPG Industries’ industrial coatings business $2.1 million award to help design and pilot a rapid photovoltaic (PV) module assembly process that uses automation to eliminate time and labor from the current assembly process.

PPG will use the funding, delivered through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, to develop liquid encapsulants that will enable PV modules to be manufactured without the need for capital-intensive laminators. PPG will match each dollar committed by the DOE, resulting in a total public-private investment of approximately $4.3 million in the project.

PPG is partnering with Flextronics International, Inc., a leading global solar module manufacturer, to design and test a pilot line at Flextronics’ Milpitas, Calif., facility that will produce 60- and 72-cell modules. PPG and Flextronics expect to increase module throughput by a factor of four at half the capital expense of the existing process.

The SunShot Initiative, which is funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), seeks to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. The PPG award is part of a $13 million investment in five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed commercialization of efficient, affordable PV and concentrating solar power technologies.