Energy Secretary Moniz has announced $60 million in funding to support innovative solar energy research and development. The awards are part of DOE’s SunShot Initiative and will help lower the cost of solar electricity, advance seamless grid integration and support a growing U.S. solar workforce.
“The tremendous growth in the U.S. solar industry over the past few years is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that protects our air and water and provides affordable clean energy to more and more Americans,” said Moniz. “Responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources is an important part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and will help ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation.”
According to DOE, over the last three years, the cost of a solar energy system has dropped by more than 70 percent – helping to give more and more American families and businesses access to affordable, clean energy. The series of awards just announced are intended to further reduce costs – including soft costs like permitting, installation and interconnection– and to improve hardware performance and efficiency.
Since 2007, more than 50 American start-ups have participated in the SunShot Incubator Program – attracting more than $1.7 billion in private sector backing, or nearly $18 for every $1 of government support. As part of this announcement, DOE is investing more than $12 million across 17 companies to help commercialize a wide range of technologies and services – from online tools that can map a rooftop’s solar potential in seconds to automated installation systems for utility scale photovoltaic plants.
The Energy Department is also awarding approximately $16 million to four projects that will help develop solar devices that near the theoretical efficiency limits of single junction solar cells, or about 30 percent efficiency. The Department is also awarding about $7 million to develop stronger, more reliable solar components as well as dependable performance tests for microinverters and microconverters. They provide easier installation and more effective capture of energy for both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power systems. Together, these awards are helping to accelerate breakthroughs in solar energy conversion efficiency and performance – driving further cost reductions.