It's been a great year for the US solar energy industry.

At the end of 2014, solar deployment is expected to be up nearly 40 percent over the previous year.

The booming demand for solar energy in the US now supports more than 173,000 jobs and the US has become the third largest solar market in the world.

Solar energy is now used to power everything from retail complexes to Las Vegas casinos.

In the past nine months, US solar manufacturing has seen huge growth.

Strong market demand in the US and as demand grows, the Energy Department's investments in the sector have begun to bear fruit.

Three solar manufacturing companies that have received research and development funding from the Department's SunShot Initiative have recently announced new factories or factory expansions in the US.

These include a new 200 megawatt plant that is up and running in Michigan and an expansion of an Oregon manufacturing facility, with plans to create 200 new jobs there. A third company just broke ground on a 1 gigawatt capacity factory in New York. This manufacturer has found US partners and market conditions favorable enough to aim for a US plant that is two orders of magnitude larger than originally planned.

SunShot also supports companies that are manufacturing other solar system components like solar cell measurement tools and PV-ready electric meter collars in the US.

These companies have leveraged SunShot's support to develop innovative and advanced manufacturing processes from differentiated technology design to automation in order to establish a competitive advantage needed to make these new facilities a reality here at home.

In response, several foreign-based solar manufacturing companies have announced plans to evaluate US market conditions or to build manufacturing facilities in the US.

SunShot recently launched a SunShot Technology-to-Market funding opportunity, which aims to support entrepreneurs and small and large companies to develop solar technologies from prototype to scale-up with $45 million in available funding.

SunShot is supporting innovation in manufacturing to ensure US-developed technologies can capture a larger portion of the global value in solar manufacturing, currently estimated to be about $120 billion worldwide.

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