The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R.3585, the Solar Technology Roadmap, by a vote of 310-106.
Introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on Sept. 17 and approved by the House Science & Technology Committee on Oct. 7, the Solar Technology Roadmap establishes a comprehensive process to create a roadmap for solar technology research and development activities conducted by the federal government in partnership with the private sector, with a focus on the Department of Energy (DOE).
The bill's passage was applauded by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which called on the Senate to quickly pass the legislation and send it to President Obama to be signed into law.
‘While solar technology is available and being deployed now in all 50 states, the Solar Technology Roadmap will help continue technological innovations and breakthroughs in the solar industry, driving down costs even further,’ says Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. ‘The roadmap is modeled after a similar program that has helped drive rapid innovation in the semiconductor industry over the past two decades.’
Specifically, the Solar Technology Roadmap would require the DOE to appoint a group of experts to create a long-term plan to guide solar energy research and its transition into commercial uses, Giffords' office says.
The expert group would identify research and development (R&D) that needs to occur to help improve the performance and reliability of solar technologies, decrease costs, reduce water use and mitigate any negative environmental impacts. The panel would be subject to a comprehensive revision every three years to keep it current.
The roadmap produced by the group will present the best current estimate of the near-term (up to two years), mid-term (up to seven years) and long-term (up to 15 years) R&D needs in solar technology, SEIA adds. It must also provide direct guidance for solar technology R&D activities supported by the federal government.
The bill requires that 30% of DOE solar R&D funding in 2012 be pursuant to the recommendations of the Roadmap, ramping up to 75% in 2015. The legislation also authorizes $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years.
‘The Solar Technology Roadmap Act lays the foundation for a future of renewable energy, sustainability, a growing economy and good-paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas,’ states Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. ‘This bill helps improve the performance and reliability of solar technology, and invests in critical research and development initiatives that will redefine how we power our homes and offices.’