SunShot Initiative adds $145 million in funding advanced solar technologies

SunShot Initiative adds $145 million in funding advanced solar technologiesLast week, the Department of Energy (DOE) said it would support a number of promising solar technologies aimed at bringing the cost of solar power down with more than $145 million in awards through the SunShot Initiative. The funding will support a total of 69 projects across 24 states ranging from photovoltaics to reducing soft costs.

The SunShot Initiative, launched early in 2011, aims to reduce the cost of installed solar to $1 per watt over the next decade.

“The SunShot Initiative will aggressively drive innovation and make large-scale solar energy systems cost-competitive with other forms of energy,” said DOE spokesperson William Gibbons. “To accomplish this, the U.S. Department of Energy is supporting efforts by private companies, academia, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to about $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.”

This round of funding will support six areas of projects, according to DOE.

Balance of systems cost reduction projects received the most, with nine projects receiving a total of $42 million. Such costs, under the category of “Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reductions,” will include research and development of lower cost hardware like inverters and racking.

“BOS accounts for more than 40 percent of the total installed cost of solar energy systems and represents a major opportunity to achieve significant cost reductions,” DOE said in a release.

The other category taking home a lion’s share of funding is the Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency.

A total of 18 projects will receive $35.8 million under this program, which combines the technical and funding resources of U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The projects will attempt to reduce or eliminate the gap in efficiencies of prototype cells achieved in laboratory settings and those produced on manufacturing lines, according to DOE.

The round of financing also includes $25.9 million to support Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems projects; $22.2 million to support Transformational PV Science and Technology: Next Generation Photovoltaics II; $13.6 million to support Reducing Market Barriers and Non-Hardware Balance of System Costs; and $5.8 million to SunShot Incubator projects.

The incubator funding will support development of new technologies and shorten the amount of lag time between developing new technologies and bringing them to market. The incubator is an expansion of DOE's PV Technology Incubator Program. Since launching in 2007, it has funded $60 million in projects that have since leveraged $1.3 billion in private investments, the DOE said.

“Since February 2011, the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative has announced $425 million in new awards. Most awards are three years in length, with the possibility of future funding,” Gibbons said.

The initiative is pretty new and doesn’t have any reported results yet, according to Gibbons.

“Most of the SunShot projects have just been announced in the past few months and work is just beginning,” he said. “Initial results from SunShot projects are expected in the coming fiscal year.”

Image courtesy of DOE.


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