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Photovoltaic Manufacturing R&D Project

Photo of blue solar cells being sorted in a production line. A woman works behind the protective glass in the background.

BP Solar's manufacturing capabilities include automatic sorting of solar cells after final testing.

NREL's Photovoltaic (PV) Manufacturing Research and Development (R&D) Project was a cost-shared partnership between NREL and a number of private-sector solar companies. The primary project goals were to reduce costs for consumers and solar companies by improving products and manufacturing processes and ensure the U.S. solar industry maintained a strong market position in a rapidly expanding global marketplace.

NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiated the project in 1991 as the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Technology (PVMaT) project, a 5-year venture to enhance the U.S. PV industry's leadership in PV manufacturing. In 2001, NREL extended this highly successful project and renamed it the PV Manufacturing R&D Project.

Since its inception, the project issued more than 70 subcontracts to some 40 solar companies. Total project funding through fiscal year 2005 was $151.4 million in DOE funding and $137.5 million in industry funding with another $33 million in DOE/industry cost share spent the remaining 3 years. In 2007, many of the research projects were incorporated into the current portfolio of the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Program

A summary of the project's accomplishments and awards is available.


The following reports provide in-depth information on outcomes of the PV Manufacturing R&D project.

Visit the NREL publications database to find related technical papers, reports, and presentations.