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Today in Las Vegas, President Obama and Energy Secretary Moniz announced at the Clean Energy Summit $24 million in innovation funding for 11 new solar technologies, as part of ARPA-E’s newest program, MOSAIC. Short for Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration, MOSAIC projects seek to develop a new class of cost-effective, high-performance solar energy modules.
ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams responded to the announcement, stating “The MOSAIC program demonstrates ARPA-E’s novel approach to energy innovation. By bringing together cutting edge advances in micro-fabrication, materials science and mechanical actuation, MOSAIC will create new options for solar generation and help make clean energy technologies even more affordable.”
MOSAIC aims to develop new solar modules with the high performance of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technologies, but at a cost and profile similar to commonly used flat-plate PV. Although CPV is much more efficient than flat-plate PV, CPV has not been widely adopted due to its high cost, large size and expensive solar tracking systems. MOSAIC project teams will address these limitations by designing micro-scale CPV systems that can be integrated into flat-plate solar panels. These micro-CPV technologies will use thousands of small lenses to concentrate sunlight onto an array of micro-PV cells in order to achieve a higher solar-to-electricity conversion. By exploiting micro-CPV techniques, the teams aim to reduce system costs and dramatically improve flat-plate PV efficiency – and thereby expand the market and geographic areas in which these technologies can operate successfully.