The U.S. Department of Energy has released the “On the Path to SunShot” reports, a series of eight research papers examining the state of the U.S. solar energy industry and the progress made to date toward the SunShot Initiative’s goal to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by 2020.
According to the DOE, the solar industry is currently about 70% of the way toward achieving the SunShot’s 2020 goals, but as solar has become more affordable, helping the industry grow 23-fold since the beginning of the Obama administration, new challenges and opportunities have emerged.
The new reports explore the lessons learned in the first five years of the 10-year initiative and identify key research, development, and market opportunities that can help to ensure that solar energy technologies are widely affordable and available to power millions more U.S. homes and businesses.
“Solar energy is an integral part of our nation’s ongoing energy revolution,” says U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The U.S. has over 10 times more solar installed today compared to 2011, when the SunShot Initiative was first launched, and the overall costs of solar have dropped by 65 percent. The administration’s continued efforts through the SunShot Initiative will help to further reduce costs to make solar energy more accessible and affordable for American families and businesses.”
Launched in 2011, the SunShot Initiative was created with the goal to reduce the cost of solar energy technologies by 75% within a decade across the residential, commercial and utility-scale sectors. Since then, the DOE says, solar technologies, solar markets and the solar industry have changed dramatically.
The new reports serve as a follow-up to the 2012 SunShot Vision Study, which analyzed the economic and environmental benefits that would result from achieving SunShot’s ambitious 2020 goal. This new study series explores the areas of focus that could help the U.S. to achieve cost-competitive solar energy.
Among the conclusions from the study series, a recurring theme emerges that sustained innovation across all levels of the industry – from cell efficiency improvements, to faster and cheaper installation methods – will help to achieve the SunShot goals.
The report series was developed in collaboration with researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Argonne National Laboratory. The reports are available here.