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US DOE provides $170m in funding to support solar energy technologies

11 Apr 2011

US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced nearly $170m in funding that will be made available over three years to support a range of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology areas, as part of the department’s SunShot Initiative.

The SunShot Initative aims to reduce the total cost of solar energy systems by about 75 per cent, to roughly $1 per watt, and will play out before the end of the decade.

The research and development funding will support four areas of investment, including improving the efficiency and performance of solar cells, developing new installation or balance of systems technologies, advancing solar energy grid integration, and researching new materials and processes for solar PV technologies.

The DOE said the investments will help reduce the cost for utility-scale solar energy installations, increase American economic competiveness, and help the US lead the world in the global market for solar PV.

‘These investments will drive innovation in the solar energy field – laying the groundwork to meet our SunShot goal of dramatically reducing the cost of solar energy nationwide and helping America to win the race to produce the most cost-effective, high-quality PV in the world. A robust American solar industry will boost our technological leadership and competitiveness, improve the nation’s energy security, create skilled manufacturing jobs, and help reach the president’s goal of doubling our clean energy in the next 25 years,’ Chu said.

Activities under the four funding opportunities will help improve the performance of current and next generation PV cells, develop advanced power electronics that optimise the performance of PV installations, and reduce the costs of PV balance-of-system hardware.

It will build on the department’s portfolio of research and development in solar energy including the Foundation Program to Advance Cell Efficiency (F-PACE), PV Balance of Systems, Solar Energy Grip Integration Systems (SEGIS)-Advanced Concepts, and PV Next Generation.

The initiative will aggressively drive innovations in the ways that solar systems are conceived, designed, manufactured and installed, to bring down the costs of solar energy systems so that they are cost-competitive without subsidies with other forms of electricity generation.

SunShot is a DOE-wide initiative that leverages investments from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and the Office of Science.

The DOE has invested more than $1bn in solar energy research over the last ten years that has been leveraged with private industry funding to support more than $2bn in total solar R&D projects.

To achieve the SunShot goal of reducing the total installed cost of large-scale solar electricity by about 75 percent, DOE will be working closely with partners in government, industry, research laboratories and academic institutions across the country.

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