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Photovoltaic Manufacturing R&D Project

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.

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 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.