This past Wednesday (Sept. 16) the Department of Energy announced that it would support solar power with a $102 million investment in projects and technologies. Of that, $52 million will support 22 projects in public-private partnerships. Another $50 million will support advances in solar photovoltaic technologies to meet the cost-reduction goals of the SunShot Initiative. Vice President Joe Biden introduced the new funds for solar and clean energy at Solar Power International.
Biden said that the Obama administration wants to help give Americans more choices when it comes to their energy sources. “This isn’t a government mandate; it’s the market working.”Biden also managed to take some pot shots at utilities and the Koch brothers who are fighting solar and particularly rooftop solar power. “Some of the most deep-pocketed special interests that have lobbied for years for fossil fuels have announced, ‘Let’s stop it, let's take away consumer choice, let’s stifle the market,’” Biden said.
Biden said that the White House wasn’t responsible for all the drops in renewable energy costs. But it has helped with efforts like this and its support of renewable energy in the past it has done more to usher in an era of clean energy than previous administrations, including supporting new jobs in solar power.
“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.”
Of the new funds $52 million will support public-private partnerships. Of that $7 million will support six projects to increase the longevity of solar systems by reducing hardware degradation rates. Another $32 million will support total of 14 concentrating solar power (CSP) projects. The projects will examine the technical challenges in CSP systems including solar collectors, energy storage and power cycles.
The remaining $13 million will support two projects aimed at reducing the soft costs of solar by working with local communities. The Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) will establish both a national recognition and a technical assistance program. The SPARC program will be in at least 300 communities across the U.S.
The other $50 million will help further the SunShot Initiative goals. The Energy Department is making up to $20 million available to improve PV modules. This funding is actually aimed at going beyond the original SunShot goals to drop solar panel costs to one-half to one-third of the original SunShot goals by the year 2030.
The remaining $30 million will support a variety of products and services to improve industry operations throughout the value chain. The products and services will support tools and technologies that can enter the solar marketplace quickly.
“It’s a simple idea to reduce the cost of solar by another 75 percent by 2020, cut red tape and get next-generation technologies to the market faster, provide technical assistance to cities and households that want to go solar, and create tens of thousands of solar jobs,” said Biden. “It’s working, you’re making it work, we’re already ahead of schedule.”Tweet