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3M Awarded $4m in ‘SunShot’ Money for Thin Film

3M has won $4.4 million over three years for the development of solar films, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative.

SunShot aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent by the end of the decade, so solar power is cost-competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies. The money will help fund further development and commercialization of 3M’s Ultra Barrier Solar Film, including a reliability test program to validate the film’s lifetime performance, in collaboration with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

3M said that its Ultra Barrier Solar Film acts as a replacement for glass with high light transmission, superb moisture barrier performance, and excellent weatherability. Compared with glass-glass modules, solar films can achieve lower balance of systems (BOS) costs by requiring less installation time, removing the need for metal racking, and reducing logistics expenditures, 3M said.

And film enables lower module manufacturing costs by allowing manufacturers to commercialize large area modules, effectively reducing fixed costs associated with module manufacturing, the company added.

“Technology for economical production of transparent barrier films has been a missing link in the flexible CIGS photovoltaic supply chain for a long time, and we are looking forward to working with 3M in the development of this technology,” NREL Senior Scientist Mike Kempe said.

“High-efficiency flexible solar modules manufactured with 3M’s Film not only have the potential to significantly reduce the total system costs for rooftop solar installations, but also have an array of niche applications where our customers can take advantage of the unique module form factor,” Derek DeScioli, business development manager for 3M’s renewable energy division, said.

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