DOE Releases $200M For Cleantech Manufacturing

The Obama administration is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to build the country into a greentech power. Today Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced (Happy Earth Day!) a five year, $200 million financing to support “manufacturing-focused research projects that will have near and mid-term impact on the U.S. solar industry.”

After supporting manufacturers of thin-film photovoltaics or CSP parabolic through as well as power project developers that buy them, the DOE is  now looking to finance cleantech’s less glamorous, but nonetheless crucial,  back office by funding developers of the  manufacturing processes that actually help make these PV panels — .

The announcement comes at a time of growing concern that China and its cheap manufacturing costs is edging ahead in the greentech race, attracting a growing amount of  investments by clean energy companies eager to cut their production costs and grow their margins.

To be able to manufacture in the U.S. clean energy companies say they need long-term government backing and have been pressing the Obama administration and Congress to extend the cleantech manufacturing tax credits implemented as part of the stimulus program.

Of the $200 million announced today the DOE plans to spend $125 million over the next five years  to support projects that develop manufacturing processes that cut the production costs of  PV panels.  The DOE has also earmarked about $40 million for companies that can develop new photovoltaic supply chain solutions processes, for example developing  equipment that cuts the amount of waste generated in manufacturing PV panels.

Included in today’s annoucment is $40 million to back marine power technology.

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