Building on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut climate-changing carbon pollution and continue building a clean energy economy in the United States, the Energy Department announced more than $102 million in new projects and available funding to support American leadership in clean energy innovation. More than $52 million will support 22 new projects in partnership with companies, non-profit organizations, universities, and national laboratories that aim to make solar energy more affordable and accessible across the nation. In addition, up to $50 million in new funding will advance solar photovoltaic (PV) technology towards and beyond the SunShot goals to reduce the total cost of solar energy, and enable cutting-edge solar technologies, tools, and services to swiftly enter the marketplace.
“Since President Obama took office, the total cost of a home solar energy system has fallen by nearly 50 percent, while solar deployment is up nearly twenty-fold. Today, solar energy is cost-competitive with traditional energy sources in 14 states,” said Energy Secretary Moniz. “The projects announced today will help more communities nationwide reach the goals laid out in the Clean Power Plan, while ensuring that America continues to lead the world in clean energy innovation.”
$7 Million for Six Projects to Improve the Reliability and Predictability of Solar Technology Performance
The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative supports research to better predict how well a given solar PV system will perform over its useful lifetime, as well as to improve performance. Accurate performance prediction is critical to determining the return on investment of a solar PV system, and thus it influences decisions made by project developers, investors, and utilities.
The Energy Department has announced $7 million for six new projects to improve solar hardware degradation rates over system lifetimes and to help investors, solar developers, and utilities to better understand these degradation rates. These projects will provide the solar community with access to improved predictive models, relevant accelerated testing techniques, and more reliable products that will ultimately lead to solar cost reductions and reduced risk in long-term PV performance.
$32 Million for Fourteen Projects to Break through Concentrating Solar Power Cost Barriers
Concentrating solar power (CSP) plays a key role in the Energy Department’s all-of-the-above energy strategy because it can store the sun’s energy for use when the sun is not shining. To support further cost reductions in CSP technology, the Energy Department announced $32 million for 14 projects that address technical challenges in each sub-system of a CSP plant, including solar collectors, receivers, thermal energy storage, novel power cycles, and operations and maintenance. These research and development projects will improve the performance and increase the efficiency of CSP plants overall, building on the success of previous Energy Department investments in this technology and leading to lower cost, higher efficiency, and more reliable CSP systems
$13 Million for Two Projects to Cut Red Tape and Expand Solar Access
Local solar regulatory processes related to permitting, inspection, and interconnection have a tremendous impact on solar energy system pricing and deployment. A recent study showed the consumer cost to “go solar” is as much as $3,000 higher in communities with challenging solar policies. To cut through this red tape, the Energy Department announced $13 million for two new projects that will establish a prominent national designation and technical assistance program for local governments to help them grow their local solar markets, create jobs and promote sustainable economic opportunities. This new program aims to qualify at least 300 communities across America for this national designation, while providing technical assistance to strengthen solar energy expertise within local governments, enabling them to reduce soft cost barriers within their communities.
Announcing Finalist Teams in SunShot Prize Competition
Today, the time it takes to go solar varies widely across the U.S. – from a few days to as long as six months – adding unnecessary wait times and costs for customers and companies. The SunShot Prize: Race to 7 Day Solar aims to slash the time it takes to go solar by 75 percent by incentivizing communities, solar companies, and electric utilities to work together to streamline permitting, installation, and interconnections processes. The Energy Department has announced the five finalist teams in the SunShot Prize competition, who have accepted this challenge to demonstrate best practices that can be easily replicated by other jurisdictions across the country.
$50 Million in Funding Potential to Foster Rapid Solar Innovation and Bringing New Technologies to the Market
To continue driving down solar PV costs beyond the current SunShot goals, the Energy Department announced $20 million available to further improve PV module performance, reliability, and manufacturability, while also advancing next generation PV concepts. In addition to typical multiyear research projects, this funding opportunity includes a topic area dedicated to small, single-year projects aimed at demonstrating the potential for expanded work in cutting-edge PV research. This funding opportunity aims to reach solar PV costs by the year 2030 that are one-half to one-third of the original SunShot goals, in order to support widespread deployment of PV.
To accelerate the current growth trajectory of solar energy in America, a wide variety of products and services are needed to address and improve industry operations up and down the value chain. The Department announced $30 million to support the development of new solar tools, technologies, and services that can swiftly enter the solar marketplace and directly address SunShot goals. This funding opportunity is meant to develop products and services that will help the solar industry to increase system value while reducing hardware costs, improve business operational efficiency, broaden the investor pool for project development, develop products leveraging new and emerging technologies, streamline regulatory processes, and more.
Broadly, these Energy Department investments support state-of-the-art products, solutions, and technology advancements that will increase solar energy system performance and efficiency and drive down costs. The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.
DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office