DOE’s SunShot Initiative Targets Cost-Competitive Solar Power By 2020

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has introduced the Department of Energy's (DOE) SunShot initiative, which aims to reduce the total costs of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75% so that they are cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies before the end of the decade.

By reducing the cost for utility-scale installations by about 75% to roughly $1/W – which would correspond to roughly $0.06/kWh – solar energy systems could be broadly deployed across the country, according to the DOE.

As part of the SunShot initiative, Chu says that the DOE is awarding $27 million in projects to support the development, commercialization and manufacturing of advanced solar energy technologies. In addition to investing in improvements in cell technologies and manufacturing, the SunShot initiative will also focus on steps to streamline and digitize local permitting processes, which is expected to reduce installation and permitting costs.

To achieve the SunShot goal of reducing the total installed cost of large-scale solar electricity by about 75%, the DOE will be working closely with partners in government, industry, research laboratories and academic institutions across the country.

SunShot will work to bring down the full cost of solar – including the costs of the solar cells and installation – by focusing on four main pillars: technologies for solar cells and arrays that convert sunlight to energy; electronics that optimize the performance of the installation; improvements in the efficiency of solar manufacturing processes; and installation, design and permitting for solar energy systems.

Additionally, the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory is investing $7 million to fund the latest round of the PV Incubator program, which helps to shorten the commercialization timeline for promising emerging solar technologies. The companies work closely with DOE national laboratories to scale their technologies and manufacturing processes and move the products from the pre-commercial and prototype stage to pilot and full-scale manufacturing operations.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

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