When President Obama was voted in he promised to expand renewable energy in the US and to reduce the costs of solar power to compete competitively without subsidies. One of those efforts was the Department of Energy’s decade-long SunShot Initiative launched in 2011. Now, just five years into the program, it’s already reached 90 percent of its goals, so it set new goals for 2030.
When the program was announced, utility-scale solar power cost about 27 cents per kilowatt hour, without subsidies. Now, DOE stated that the cost of utility-scale solar power costs about 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, less than even in 2015. The initiative’s 2020 goal was to reduce the cost of solar panels to 6 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about $1 per watt for solar panels.
Given the overwhelming and early success of the SunShot Initiative, the DOE set new targets for the program for 2030. During the second decade of the program, DOE wants to drive the cost of solar power from 6 cents per kilowatt-hour to 3 cents per kilowatt hour. Under the new goals, in the sunniest regions of the country, the cost of utility-scale solar would fall even further to 2 cents per kilowatt hour. If the cost of solar reaches those goals it will be among the least expensive options for energy generation.
"Both SunShot and the solar industry have made major strides to reduce costs for innovative technologies which resulted in dramatic market growth and the creation of hundreds of thousands of American jobs," said Acting Assistant Secretary David Friedman. "These new goals and funding will further push down costs, save American consumers and businesses money, and create even more jobs."
While utility-scale solar power is closest to the ultimate 2020 target, the residential and commercial sectors are also seeing cost reductions of 70 percent since the program launched. When the program began residential solar cost 42 cents per kilowatt hour and commercial solar cost 34 cents per kilowatt hour. They have fallen to 18 cents per kilowatt hour and 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, respectively. Under the new goals for 2030 residential solar would fall to 5 cents per kilowatt hour and commercial solar to 4 cents per kilowatt hour.
To support the SunShot goals the DOE announced up to $65 million of new investments to further drive down the cost of solar while speeding deployment. The funds are subject to appropriations by Congress.Tweet