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BP Solar Selected for Solar America Initiative Award from US Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will participate in the first phase of a three-year, $40 million research and development program proposed by BP Solar and its partners aimed at decreasing the cost of solar cells and increasing their efficiency in order to make solar power cost competitive with electricity generated by other means. The DOE Solar America Initiative grant, which could be up to $7.5 million in Phase 1, was announced today by US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.

"I want to thank the Department of Energy and Secretary Samuel Bodman for their careful evaluation of our proposal and for their support," said BP America Chairman and President Bob Malone. "Our shared goal is to lower the cost and increase the supply of clean, renewable energy. BP is working with other companies, with leading research institutions and universities and with government to achieve the scientific, engineering and manufacturing breakthroughs to make that possible. This program is an important part of that effort."

Announced in 2006 by President George W. Bush, the goal of the Solar America Initiative is to reduce the cost of solar power so that by 2015 it is at grid-parity, or cost-competitive with electricity generated by other means. The DOE grant will help fund phase 1 of a proposed, multi-phase, three-year research and development effort to reduce the cost of solar power by expanding the supply of solar grade silicon, reducing the amount of silicon required in the manufacture of solar panels, increasing the efficiency of existing solar panels and developing new, lower cost distribution, installation and finance programs.

"BP Solar is excited to be partnering with the DOE in this effort to make solar power more cost effective," said BP Solar President Lee Edwards. "We believe that we can make solar power cost competitive by working with suppliers to expand the availability of solar grade silicon, by improving our manufacturing processes so that less silicon is used in each solar cell, by improving the energy efficiency of the cells we make and by developing products that are less expensive to install."

BP Solar is working to reduce the thickness of solar cells by 50 percent while increasing efficiency 25 percent.

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