Through its SunShot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $107 million in funding for new solar projects and technology advancement.
Under its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the DOE says it will fund 40 projects with a total of $42 million to improve PV performance, reliability and manufacturability and to enable greater market penetration for solar technologies.
One of SunShot’s goals is to drive down the levelized cost of utility-scale solar electricity to $0.06/kWh without incentives by 2020. The projects and new funding announced today aim to reach costs well below that threshold, says the DOE.
The announcements encompass several programs within EERE’s SunShot Initiative:
SunShot selected 19 projects to receive a total of $17 million under the PV Research and Development Program to improve the performance, reliability and manufacturability of existing PV technology, as well as advance next-generation solar technology development. The new R&D projects focus on both current and emerging PV technologies aimed at improving power conversion efficiency and energy output, as well as enhancing service lifetime and decreasing hardware costs. According to the DOE, these projects could significantly lower solar PV costs from SunShot’s 2020 targets to support even more widespread deployment of PV technologies across the nation.
To accelerate the current growth trajectory of solar energy in the U.S., the department is also announcing nearly $25 million for 21 new projects under SunShot’s Technology to Market Program. The funding will support the development of new tools, technologies and services for the solar industry by helping to reduce hardware costs, improve business operational efficiency and broaden the investor pool for project development. Additionally, the projects will yield products that can leverage new, emerging technologies and assist in streamlining regulatory processes, according to the DOE.
Later this year, SunShot intends to make up to $65 million (subject to appropriation) in additional funding available under the PV Research and Development Program, Technology to Market Program, and Systems Integration Program. The DOE expects the PV Research and Development Program to make up to $25 million available in funding to improve PV module and system design, including hardware and software solutions that facilitate the rapid installation and interconnection of PV systems.
Through the Technology to Market Program, the DOE expects up to $30 million to be made available for projects that accelerate the commercialization of products and solutions that can help to drive down the cost of solar energy.
Finally, SunShot will make up to $10 million available under its Systems Integration Program for projects that are focused on improving solar irradiance and power forecasts in an effort to accelerate data integration into energy management systems used by utilities.
“Since 2008, the commitments made by the Department of Energy have contributed to solar PV’s deployment growing 30-fold and overall costs falling more than 60 percent,” said Franklin Orr, the DOE’s under secretary for science and energy. “Continuing to invest in solar technologies will help to drive down costs even further for American consumers and ensure that the U.S. maintains global leadership in this century’s clean energy economy.”