The United States Energy Department has announced it will provide up to $107 million in new projects and planned research and development funding through the country’s SunShot Initiative.
Announced on Wednesday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) stated it would fund 40 projects with a total of $42 million through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) SunShot Initiative. The funding is intended to improve solar PV performance, reliability, and manufacturability, as well as to enable greater solar market penetration.
The $42 million is split up into two separate streams. $17 million has been earmarked for 19 advanced solar PV projects under the PV Research and Development Program. The remaining $25 million was set aside for 21 new projects under SunShot’s Technology to Market Program, and 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.
On top of the $42 million in project funding, the DOE will also make up to $65 million in additional funding available, subject to appropriation, for upcoming solar research and development projects, with the intended result of driving down solar costs and accelerating national deployment.
Similar to the project financing, the research & development funding has been specifically earmarked toward three separate projects. $25 million is available to improve solar PV module and system design, which includes hardware and software installations. $30 million has been made available for projects that accelerate the commercialization of products and solutions, and $10 million has been made available under the SunShot’s Systems Integration Program for projects that will focus on improving solar irradiance and power forecasts.
One of the SunShot Initiative’s primary aims is to reduce the total installed cost of solar energy systems to only $0.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2020 without incentives, a process that SunShot is already 70% on its way to achieving. Specifically, since its initiation back in 2011, the average price per kWh of utility-scale solar PV projects has dropped from about $0.21 to $0.11. The new project and research & development funding announced this week is simply another step along this path, and is expected to help reach SunShot’s main mission well before 2020.
“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%,” said Under Secretary for Science and Energy Franklin Orr. “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.”
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