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UW Today
New UW institute to develop efficient solar power and better energy storage
December 12, 2013

A new University of Washington institute to develop efficient, cost-effective solar power and better energy storage systems launched today (Dec. 12) with an event attended by UW President Michael K. Young, Gov. Jay Inslee and researchers, industry experts and policy leaders in renewable energy.

The Clean Energy Institute formed when Washington’s governor and state legislators last summer allocated $6 million to create a research center at the university that will advance solar energy and electrical energy storage capacities. The institute will better connect and boost existing energy research at the UW as well as attract new partnerships and talent, including new faculty members.

“Our goal is to create record-breaking solar energy efficiencies, low-cost processing and the integrated systems that will make solar power the cornerstone of a new clean energy economy,” said Daniel Schwartz, director of the institute and chair and professor of chemical engineering. “The Clean Energy Institute is enabling us to dive into the science and engineering that will lead to solar and energy storage technologies the world needs and wants.”

The funding will support the institute’s first two years. It came as part of a package last summer that also allocated $1.8 million to create an ocean acidification research center at the UW.

Solar panels dot many rooftops and power highway signs across the country, but the technology still hasn’t reached the lower cost and reliability needed for widespread adoption, Schwartz said. And even the best solar cells still need better energy storage capabilities to integrate seamlessly into the electrical grid.