Solar Manufacturing Technology Initiative (SolMaT)
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Date: 1/1/95    Record No.: 10094
Contact: Tom Williams, 303-275-3602; Mark Bohn, 303-275-3605

Solar Manufacturing Technology Initiative (SolMaT)
Through the SolMaT initiative, NREL is supporting solar industry in their efforts to achieve cost-effective solar thermal electric technologies. In the past, the Solar Thermal Electric Program has focused primarily on technologies that could be successful in high-volume applications because high volumes imply large market impacts and low manufacturing costs. SolMaT addresses system designs, manufacturing processes, and business plans that will allow the early, entry-market sales necessary for commercial demonstration of the technology and the creation of a viable U.S. solar thermal electric industry.

The first contracts to be issued under the SolMaT initiative involve manufacturing technologies for heliostats (mirrors that track the sun and focus the energy on a fixed, central receiver) and will be issued in FY 1995. During FY 1996 industry partners working on those contracts will have completed evaluations of manufacturing technologies appropriate for near-term heliostat production scenarios. They will begin validations of the most promising of those technologies in small-scale production runs.

Solicitations involving other solar thermal technologies such as dish/engine system components and power tower components will be issued during FY 1995 and awards based on those solicitations will be made in FY 1996. Also during FY 1995, through SolMaT, solar thermal electric industry partners will be exposed to a new manufacturing methodology called Design for Manufacturing Assembly (DFMA). DFMA has achieved major cost reductions in components and systems for a large number of U. S. companies in a wide range of business. Similar cost reductions in the solar thermal electric industry could have a large impact on commercializaton of those technologies. (DU, Distributed Utility)