Capps Announces $3.6 Million Grant for Goleta-Based Clean Technology Company: Award to Transphorm Will Help Spur Energy Efficiency Market, Create Jobs

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) announced that Goleta-based Transphorm, a clean technology company using an advanced semiconductor device material to reduce power waste and improve the energy efficiency of a wide range of electrical devices, will receive a $3.64 million federal award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) program. The funding will help Transphorm develop high-efficiency power transforming devices for integration into solar energy panels and motion control applications.

Cutting edge clean energy research projects, like those being worked on at Transphorm, can fundamentally change the way our country uses and produces energy, drive economic growth through innovation, and wean us off our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels,” said Congresswoman Capps. “Once again, the Central Coast has proven that it’s a leader in developing these clean energy technologies. When I voted to enact ARPA-E to fund exciting, innovative energy projects, this is exactly the kind of transformational technology that I envisioned the program would be supporting.”

Capps toured Transphorm’s Goleta facility in August and met with employees to discuss the company’s research in advanced energy technologies.  This marks the second time ARPA-E has awarded federal funds to Transphorm.  In 2010, the company received a $2.95 million federal award for a similar project.  Also in August, Vice President Joe Biden commended Transphorm for garnering more than $25 million in outside private capital investment.

“From our headquarters in Goleta, we are solving energy waste problems for an ever-increasing base of customers,” said Umesh Mishra, CEO of Transphorm.

“Through public-private partnerships with innovative programs like ARPA-E, Transphorm is bringing its world-leading energy saving technology to a global market, while growing local advanced technology and manufacturing jobs,” said Primit Parikh, President of Transphorm.  

Transphorm’s technology, which was among 60 research projects selected nationwide, is based on innovative high performance architecture, called a four quadrant switch, enabling a single semiconductor device to switch voltage and current in both directions. It will be made with Gallium Nitride (GaN). The four quadrant design will result in reduced losses and higher efficiency. This “plug-n-use” technology will enable reliable power transfer from solar panels to the grid and revolutionize photovoltaic deployment in commercial establishments and solar farms.

In announcing the selections, Arun Majumdar, Director of the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E said, “These innovative projects are at the forefront of a new technological frontier that plays a critical role in our future energy security and economic growth. It is now more important than ever to invest in game-changing ideas that will build the technological infrastructure for a new, clean energy economy.”

The projects selected are located in 25 states, with 50% of projects led by universities, 23% by small businesses, 12% by large businesses, 13% by national labs, and 2% by non-profits. Prior to today, ARPA-E has awarded $365.7 million in funds to approximately 120 groundbreaking energy projects within seven program areas. This most recent round of selections brings the total to 180 projects, 12 program areas and $521.7 million in awards at ARPA-E to date.

 ARPA-E is an agency within the Department of Energy that pursues high-risk, high-reward energy technology development.  Congresswoman Capps has long supported ARPA-E and advocated for funding the agency after its creation in 2007. In 2010, she was successful in advocating for $400 million in funding for APRA-E in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

ARPA-E is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at the Department of Defense.  DARPA’s focus on funding unique, promising research has led to breakthroughs like stealth technology, GPS, and the internet.  

More information on the ARPA-E program can be found here.