The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $2.5 million to a solar technology company developing energy-generating windows, as part of the department’s SunShot Initiative.
Last week, Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Next Energy Technologies was selected to receive the grant, which it will match for a project budget of $5 million.
According to the DOE, the SunShot program is a national effort aimed “to make solar energy a low-cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners.”
Next, a startup company founded by a team of scientists and engineers, is developing energy-harvesting coatings to be integrated into commercial windows. The company claims its product’s aesthetics, due to transparency and color, as well as its cost-savings production methods, set it apart from other building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) offerings currently on the market.
However, unlike those products, Next’s technology has yet to be implemented commercially. The company hopes the DOE’s support will help make that a reality.
The goal of the grant-awarded project is “to accelerate transition of a lab-made, commercially relevant prototype to a fully developed prototype whose initial reliability and certification testing has been passed and is ready to begin pilot manufacturing,” according to an announcement from the company. “In meeting this important objective, Next will position itself to meet SunShot’s goal of a Levelized Cost of Energy of $0.03/kWh by 2030 as well as enable supply chain innovation, improve form factor, increase the domestic market, and increase domestic manufacturing of solar power technology.”
The company’s coating technology is the same type of dye coating traditionally used for photography film. It is applied on surface No. 2 using specialized coating heads integrated in a fabrication line—after the glass is cut, tempered and washed and before it is encapsulated in the insulating glass unit process.
CEO Daniel Emmett says Next has “a joint development and license agreement in place for commercialization with a U.S. glass fabricator,” though he could not specify the company. He adds that it expects “full-scale commercialization to begin in mid-2020, and market prep with alpha and beta installations in the year or two preceding.”
Next was selected as a part of the SunShot Initiative’s Technology to Market 3 funding program.