3M, the company behind Scotch Tape, is moving into alternative energy thanks to a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company plans to use the money to develop and commercialize its new thin film solar technology known as Ultra Barrier Solar Film. The solar material is reported to have high light transmission, superb moisture barrier performance and excellent weather resistance.

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The grant is part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the total cost of photovoltaic solar energy systems by 75 percent by the end of the decade. 3M’s Ultra Barrier Solar Film utilizes moisture-resistant film to replace the glass used in conventional thin film solar panels.

Whereas traditional solar panels are expensive and require involved installation systems, 3M’s solar film requires no metal racking and reduces logistics expenditures. 3M has also stated that the solar film reduces module manufacturing costs by allowing manufacturers to commercialize large area modules.

“High-efficiency flexible solar modules manufactured with 3M’s Film not only have the potential to significantly reduce the total system costs for rooftop solar installations, but also have an array of niche applications where our customers can take advantage of the unique module form factor,” said Derek DeScioli, business development manager for 3M’s renewable energy division.

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Via Environmental Leader