I/UCRC Planning Grant: Next Generation Photovoltaics - Texas A&M University Site
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The planned Texas A&M University site of the Next-Generation Photovoltaics (NGPV) I/UCRC will seek to address the major challenge facing the solar industry which is no longer the cost of the cell, but rather the cost of the rest of the "system" that is needed to interface the cells, which generate low-voltage direct current, to the electric utility grid, which operates with high-voltage alternating current. The proposed research site will integrate Texas A&M faculty with expertise in power electronics, materials, grid infrastructure and design, public policy and safety with industry stakeholders in complimentary energy sectors to transform PV into a safe, affordable, and reliable source of electricity. Collaboration among university and industry experts from solar cells to grid promises to enhance the PV market space through significant advances in knowledge and widespread adoption of PV energy. Efficient, low-cost, and dependable electricity generated from photovoltaics can be this century''s electrification project and will lift the standard of living and quality of life in the developing world. The capability and knowledge generated by the NGPV Center can support PV as an export industry for the US - not through manufacturing components, but instead by providing energy solutions. The proposed research site at Texas A&M will leverage public interest in renewable energy to attract students into the field of energy and power electronics. Dissemination and education plans include: scientific collaboration through conference participation, undergraduate and graduate student research, creation of a teaching module and curriculum, and community activities such as "Solar Saturday" to showcase the existing campus 30kW PV demonstration system.