DuPont opened a North American photovoltaic applications lab at its Chestnut Run facility in Wilmington, Del., to support materials development for the fast-growing photovoltaic energy market, according to a recent press release. DuPont is a supplier of specialty materials to the photovoltaic industry.

“The global demand for renewable energy is strong and growing,” CEO Ellen Kullman says. “DuPont is responding to the demand by collaborating with customers, governments and other stakeholders to deliver high-performance innovation that addresses head-on energy challenges today and into the future. This lab will allow us to access tremendous scientific talent to develop the technology and materials for converting the energy of the sun into electricity, contributing to decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.”

The lab will bring technological innovation with photovoltaic materials to a full-size manufacturing and fabrication facility. Dupont hopes to partner with customers, industry leaders, research institutes and universities. The lab is designed to advance solar module design, accelerate time to market in photovoltaic innovation and deliver cost-effective, high-performance products to the photovoltaic industry.

“This lab expands the capabilities of the global network of photovoltaic research and technical centers we have established in Asia and Europe,” says David Miller, president of DuPont Electronics & Communications. “As a result, DuPont will accelerate its ability to develop new materials technologies that meet the needs of the market. Through our partnerships, we will be able to help create solar modules that run more efficiently, last longer and make solar energy a viable alternative for everyone.”

The company says that it expects its photovoltaic sales to grow over 50 percent this year, and to exceed $2 billion by 2014. DuPont acknowledges this goal is ambitious. In 2009, the company reported the photovoltaic materials sales accounted for about 24% of the total sales of is Electronics and Communications division, or about $450 million, so that target assumes a growth rate of about 35%.