SEMI Interview: John Lushetsky, Solar Energy Technology Program, U.S. Department of Energy


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SEMI Interview: John Lushetsky, Solar Energy Technology Program, U.S. Department of Energy

Recently, SEMI met with John Lushetsky the manager of the Solar Energy Technology Program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to discuss the DOE’s solar energy efforts. He is responsible for all solar technology development, grid integration, and market transformation activities under the Solar America Initiative announced by President Bush in 2006.

Prior to this, Mr. Lushetsky was with Corning’s Strategic Growth group where he was responsible for developing new strategic business opportunities in photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies.

Ken Schramko:

Thank you for meeting with SEMI and taking the time to answer some questions about solar energy and the DOE. As you know, many of SEMI’s members are involved in solar energy. Can you explain the DOE’s Solar America Initiative to our members?

John Lushetsky:

The Solar America Initiative (SAI) is DOE’s goal to achieve grid parity with solar technologies by 2015. This is the major focus of the DOE’s Solar Energy Technology Program (SETP) and is part of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative announced in 2006.

Ken Schramko:

How can our members benefit from the Solar America Initiative and what impact will it have on the PV manufacturing supply chain?

John Lushetsky:

A major part of the DOE’s activities to achieve SAI goals is the funding of competitively awarded partnerships with private companies and universities. SEMI members can apply for these awards directly or work with our funded partners.

Much of the SETP is focused on advancing specific new cell technologies. Of particular interest to many SEMI members, however, is a new program where we will fund the development of specific technologies that have broad reaching impact across large parts of the PV industry. Initial applications for this Supply Chain opportunity are due in January 2009. We hope to have additional calls for applications as allowed by total program funding.

Members should also explore working directly with our national labs where DOE has invested millions of dollars over the last 30 years to develop very significant resources and facilities. DOE is funding PV development and testing work at both the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov) and Sandia National Laboratory (www.snl.gov). Several options exist for working collaboratively with the labs.

Ken Schramko:

How would our members apply for Solar America Initiative funding? Are there other funding opportunities in terms of solar energy at the DOE?

John Lushetsky:

Details on different funding opportunities can be found through our website (www.eere.energy.gov/solar). SEMI members can also get information by sending an email to solar@ee.doe.gov to receive our newsletter. This will allow them to keep up on the latest announcements regarding funding opportunities as well as other program developments. Additionally, SEMI members may want to explore the website for DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Science which funds very early stage research in solar and other energy technologies.

Ken Schramko:

Can you explain the Solar America Cities initiative? How does it compliment the Solar America Initiative?

John Lushetsky:

The Solar America Cities program is a part of the SAI where DOE is working with 25 U.S. cities to address critical local market and regulatory barriers to the installation of solar technology products. The Solar America Cities program is part of our overall Market Transformation activities that are intended to accelerate the wide-spread market adoption of solar products as total system costs come down.

Ken Schramko:

What is the DOE working on with U.S. universities and laboratories in terms of a technology roadmap for next generation cells and new materials for crystalline silicon and thin film technology?

John Lushetsky:

Part of DOE’s work has been to develop roadmaps for critical silicon and thin film technologies that define time-based targets that can be critical parts of achieving the SAI goals. More information on these roadmaps can be found online through www.nrel.gov. These targets are intended to serve as a top-level guide to industry and university research and development efforts.

Ken Schramko:

SEMI looks forward to working with the DOE. How do you envision the DOE participating with industry on technology roadmapping and in the development of new standards to address specific and unique PV manufacturing requirements?

John Lushetsky:

SEMI could be a very critical part to helping to further develop and refine roadmaps for silicon as well as all PV technologies. This would increase their value to both cell manufacturers as well as to companies across the PV supply chain; especially with those involved with the development of specific and unique PV manufacturing processes. DOE would strongly support this level of industry involvement and be able to provide further technical expertise through our national labs.

Ken Schramko:

Is there anything else that you would like to let our members know about the DOE’s solar energy efforts?

John Lushetsky:

The DOE believes that the SAI goal of grid parity is very achievable but will require all the knowledge and resources built up from over 40 years of work in the larger semiconductor and micro-electronics industries. PV is really just at the beginning when compared to these industries. DOE is very open to working with SEMI members to understand and address the technical and market challenges still in front of us. We believe our efforts will result in making PV and all solar technologies a source of clean, abundant, reliable, and affordable energy for the United States.

Posted on December 9, 2008