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Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – Venture capital-backed is getting another infusion of cash.

The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday that it is providing $3 million in funding for Semprius as part of the firm’s efforts to improve solar panel technology. The funds will be paid over 18 months as determined by reaching project milestones.

Semprius is developing concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules to make solar power generation more economical.

“Semprius will use the subcontract to develop and then demonstrate our solar technology at the pilot plant scale. This is a critical next step on our path to full-scale manufacturing,” said Joe Carr, chief executive officer of Semprius, in a statement issued Thursday. “We are honored to be selected from among the many submissions.”

According to the DOE, the contract calls for Semprius to “focus efforts towards a massively parallel, microcell-based CPV receiver. This approach combines the benefits of unique-to-solar manufacturing techniques with the performance and operational benefits of microcell concentrating photovoltaics.”

Semprius’ technology is centered around a patented manufacturing process that enables semiconductors to be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials for use in solar panels, liquid-crystal displays, advanced disk drivers and other devices.

Last summer, Semprius received a $500,000 grant from the DOE for use in helping commercialize its solar power technology.

Last week, a German firm agreed to invest $1.5 million in Semprius. The company also has raised some $11 million in venture funding. Investors include Durham-based Intersouth partners and In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The $3 million Semprius grant is part of $12 million in funding for solar energy from the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and its Photovoltaic Incubator Program.

“Expanding the solar power industry in the U.S. can create new jobs, reduce carbon pollution and save consumers money,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “By partnering with NREL, these companies will be able to gain from their expertise, accelerate the pace of innovation and help get technologies to market faster.”