Renewables, Solar

Department of Energy Expands Solar Research, $82 Million in New Projects

By Editors of Power Engineering

The U.S. Department of Energy announced an expanded vision for its Solar Energy Technologies Office, which will incorporate a number of Trump Administration priorities including early-starge research to address challenges such as solar energy’s grid reliability and resilience as well as energy storage.

“With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges,” said Daniel Simmons, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “As we look to the future, DOE will focus new solar R&D on the Secretary’s priorities, which include strengthening the reliability and resilience of the electric grid while integrating solar energy.”

The department also announced the solar industry has already achieved the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by its SunShot Initiative. Thanks to rapid declines in the cost of hardware, the average price of utility-scale solar is now 6 cents per kWh.

Simmons unveiled $82 million in new solar research. Up to $62 million of that will support advances in CSP technology, which uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight, to enable on-demand solar energy.

The remaining $20 million will be used to advance power electronics technologies, which could help grid operators detect problems rapidly and respond, protect against physical and cyber vulnerabilities and enable consumers to manage electricity use.

Awardees will be required to contribute 20 percent of the funds to their overall project budget, yielding total public and private spending of nearly $100 million.

Solar now provides 1.5 percent of U.S. electricity, with an estimated 47.1 GW to be added this year.