Kodak bid for federal solar funds falls short

Apr 20, 2011

Remember that press conference in February that talked about the possibility of setting up a solar cell manufacturing line at Kodak’s Eastman Business Park?

Remember the 2,000 to 4,000 jobs that officials said the partnership with Natcore Technology would create?

Well, turns out the key ingredient to that prospective success story - an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) - did not come through.

Despite the setback, however, Kodak and Natcore officials say they’re still working to make the project a reality.

“We hope that everything laid out at the [February] press conference comes to pass,” says Natcore’s David Rutkin.

Rutkin says setting up a Natcore research lab in Rochester is still very much a possibility. He says setting up a manufacturing line, however, is “still up in the air.”

According to Rutkin, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Fairport) has set up a meeting for Natcore on Thursday. Rutkin says the company will meet with Rochester area municipalities, NYSERDA and local economic development firm Greater Rochester Enterprise.

We’ll let you know if anything comes of it.

(Update: Solar company picks Rochester for research center.)

Rutkin says the New Jersey-based Natcore is also testing the waters in New Jersey, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Houston suburb of Pearland, Texas.

The company was recently awarded a patent for technology that uses carbon nanotubes to improve solar cell performance.

DOE money

So what about the DOE money? A Kodak spokesman said the company hadn’t yet heard about the fate of its grant application. But a DOE spokeswoman confirmed that it did not pass muster. According to the agency, all available funds for the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative have been allocated.

Of the three projects that received funding, the big winner was another project in upstate New York.

Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) took home $57.5 million, with the apparent assistance of Sen. Charles Schumer.