In a bid to support the efforts of President Obama’s administration to double renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the Department of Energy has announced more than $59 million in funding for solar energy innovation. The Department will make $45 million in funding available to quickly move innovative solar manufacturing technologies to market, and will also make available $14 million for 15 new projects that will help communities develop multi-year solar deployment plans to install solar electricity in homes, businesses, and communities. The funding will aid in lowering the cost of conversions to solar and help businesses develop solutions to overcome technical, regulatory, and financial challenges to further solar adoption.
“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.”
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. The current funding combines three SunShot Initiative funding programs which were historically distinct—Incubator, Solar Manufacturing Technology, and Scaling Up Nascent PV at Home—and will create a single new strategy to support projects with the potential to significantly reduce the costs of solar energy systems across multiple areas of technology.
The 15 Solar Market Pathways projects pursue various approaches to developing actionable solar deployment plans and strategies to promote residential-, community-, and commercial-scale solar usage, from expanding shared or community solar program and local financing mechanisms to integrating solar energy into communities’ emergency response plans. The case studies and lessons learned from these projects, which are aimed at reducing the non-hardware “soft” costs of solar such as permitting, financing, and connecting to the grid, will ultimately provide similar jurisdictions with examples that can be replicated in their localities. Project 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.