The Collaboration for Leveraging Energy And Nanotechnology (CLEAN) project, created by E2TAC at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), University at Albany, is funded by the National Science Foundation's Partnership for Innovation program. This innovative, 2.5 year program was completed December 31, 2012.
CNSE, in partnership with Marist College, the businesses that form the New Energy New York coalition, those that are represented by the Center for Economic Growth and several New York State government organizations (NYSERDA, NYSTAR, NYS ESD) established the CLEAN program, which included specific “Nanotech Innovation in Renewable Energy” (NIRE) efforts, to help grow the energy and nanotechnology industry in the Tech Valley Region of New York by providing knowledge transfer through business acceleration and market validation services to start-up, mid-size and expanding companies.
Other NIRE efforts included workforce development for energy businesses through hands-on training and internships in manufacturing, installation, and servicing of these specialized new energy technologies, outreach to the public at large, and K-12 educational workshops. Listed below are three of the main project outcomes of the CLEAN program.
Creation of a National Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium
The Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $57.5 million in April 2011 to the CNSE and its partners to create the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC). The PVMC will increase the United States’ share of the photovoltaic technology and products market, and create thousands of jobs over the next decade.
Without the facilities and expertise at CNSE, highlighted and maintained through programs such as the NSF PFI-supported CLEAN program, larger-scale funding would likely not materialize. This is perhaps most clear in the creation of the PVMC, a partnership between SEMATECH and CNSE, as well as with the University of Central Florida. Over 80 companies, universities, and high tech laboratories have committed to join the alliance that will provide a major boost to the United States’ photovoltaic manufacturing industry.
Developing an Innovative & Engaged Energy Workforce
Since its inception in March 2010, the Energy Innovation Camp has provided hands-on learning and experimental activities to over 1,000 K-12 students annually around New York State. With a focus on female, at-risk, and minority groups, CLEAN has worked to make the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fun and approachable to students that have historically had low representation in STEM-based careers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 5% of U.S. workers are employed in fields related to science and engineering, yet they are responsible for more than 50% of our sustained economic expansion. The need for skilled workers in this area is expected to only become more acute over time.
The CLEAN program developed new and unique approaches to increase student interest and interaction in STEM areas. Through classroom work, designed with local high schools, and hands-on laboratory activities at the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering’s Albany NanoTech Complex, students explored the promise and potential of nanotechnology to enable advanced technologies that will positively impact fields ranging from electronics, energy and the environment to health care, military and information technology, among many others. Creating a Living Laboratory for Students and Researchers
CNSE, through its CLEAN program, and in conjunction with partners, has developed, installed and established a state-of-the-art control and monitoring system: The Photovoltaic Energy Monitoring & Control Center (PV emc2).
The PV emc2 currently monitors ~100 kW of grid-connected photovoltaic renewable power generation systems at CNSE. The Center is a key regional asset, and serves to enhance and optimize additional PV installations in New York State. In addition, the demonstration facilities serve as a living laboratory to train new undergraduate and graduate students to perform research and enable technology transfer to industry.
The PV emc2
provides information and analysis tools to evaluate the merits of building-integrated or roof-mounted solar photovoltaic products, especially as it relates to New York’s climate and environmental conditions. The PV emc2
can determine subtle changes in the different arrays, including reliability and device failure mechanisms. The PV emc2
living laboratory assists scientists and students to have a better understanding of the modules and methods for improvement.