Veeco to help lower solar power costs

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Veeco Instruments Inc. will participate in a multimillion-dollar project to develop less-expensive solar power systems.

The Plainview-based manufacturer of equipment that is used to make solar panels said it would benefit from a $57.5-million federal grant aimed at reducing the cost of such energy systems.

The project, part of the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, will be housed in the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

"Veeco tools valued at tens of millions of dollars will be acquired . . . and Veeco will have first access to the research for its next generation of tools," said Alain Kaloyeros, the college's chief executive.

He added the company has been working with the college since 2000 on semiconductors.

College spokesman Steve Janack said Veeco is among 80 businesses and organizations involved in the solar project, whose goal is to make solar power more prevalent throughout the United States. Veeco has a pilot production line in the Albany area.

Veeco chief executive John Peeler said the grant would "speed" commercialization of new solar energy technology.

Another key player is SEMATECH, a private-sector and government consortium for semiconductor manufacturing that expanded from Austin, Texas, to Albany.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) and Sen. Charles Schumer lobbied for the funds. An additional $5 million has been awarded to the University of Central Florida for similar work.

Israel said, "Investments in our growing clean technology industry are critical to both our economic recovery and our national security. This latest Department of Energy funding . . . will bolster our efforts to compete globally as a clean energy leader."

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Earlier this year, Veeco won a $4.8-million federal grant for development of solar panel tools.

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