Companies with innovative, game-changing ways to lower the cost of solar energy have been awarded $5.8 million to work with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The SunShot Incubator Program is an expansion of DOE's successful PV Technology Incubator Program, launched in 2007, which to date has funded $60 million in projects and leveraged $1.3 billion in private investment.

Its primary goal is to advance the timeline and commercial potential of new manufacturing processes and products with the potential for dramatic price improvements.

"When these companies work with NREL researchers, they increase the likelihood that they reach their performance and reliability objectives and reach them soon,” NREL Incubator Manager Brian Keyes says. The NREL imprimatur in turn lowers risk and gives assurance to venture capitalists and other private investors that the technology can be a good investment.

The latest awardees selected in a highly competitive process include three companies from California and one from Vermont.

They will work with NREL scientists to overcome technical and practical barriers to commercialization and must meet stringent performance deadlines or be dropped from the program.