In support of the Administration’s effort to double renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy announced more than $59 million in funding to support solar energy innovation. The Department is making $45 million in funding available to quickly move innovative solar manufacturing technologies to market, and is also awarding more than $14 million for 15 new projects to help communities develop multi-year solar deployment plans to install solar electricity in homes, businesses, and communities. As more communities look to solar energy as a source of clean, renewable electricity, the funding announced today will help lower the cost of going solar and enable businesses to develop solutions for overcoming technical, regulatory, and financial challenges, further unleashing cost-competitive solar energy.
“As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, the U.S. brings as much solar power online every three weeks as we did in all of 2008,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the price of solar continues to drop, the Energy Department is committed to supporting a robust domestic solar manufacturing sector that will help American business meet growing demand and help American families and businesses save money by making solar a cheaper and more accessible source of clean electricity.”
Supporting Solar Technology Innovation and American Manufacturing
The $45 million Technology to Market funding opportunity is part of the Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, aimed at boosting American competitiveness and supporting a strong domestic, clean energy manufacturing sector. This funding opportunity combines three historically separate SunShot Initiative funding programs—Incubator, Solar Manufacturing Technology, and Scaling Up Nascent PV at Home— into one that will support projects with the potential to significantly reduce the costs for solar energy systems across a variety of technology areas. These tools, technologies and services could reduce the costs of technologies including photovoltaics and power electronics, and could also contribute to cutting balance of system and non-hardware costs through customer acquisition, permitting, financing, interconnection, and inspection.
Empowering Communities to Deploy Solar
The 15 Solar Market Pathways projects announced by the White House earlier today pursue various approaches to developing actionable solar deployment plans and strategies to promote deployment at residential, community, and commercial scales—from expanding shared or community solar programs and local financing mechanisms to integrating solar energy generation into communities’ emergency response plans. Aimed at cutting the non-hardware “soft costs” of solar – such as permitting, financing, and connecting to the electric grid – the case studies and lessons learned from these projects will ultimately provide similar jurisdictions with examples that can be replicated—an important step towards making solar deployment faster, easier, and cheaper across the country. The awardees include not-for-profits, utilities, industry associations, universities, and state and local jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
The U.S. has installed more than 17 gigawatts of solar power—enough to power 3.5 million average American homes—and deployment is expected to accelerate as costs continue to fall and more residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects come online. Broadly, these investments build on the SunShot Initiative’s support of state-of-the art products, solutions and technology advancements that will drive down the costs of solar energy and help America lead in the global clean energy race.