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SunShot to Cut Solar Prices 75%

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has launched an initiative to cut the cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) by 75% by 2020.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

The aim of the SunShot initiative is to make large-scale solar PV cost competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies by the end of 2020.

“America is in a world race to produce cost-effective, quality photovoltaics. The SunShot initiative will spur American innovations to reduce the costs of solar energy and re-establish US global leadership in this growing industry,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“These efforts will boost our economic competitiveness, rebuild our manufacturing industry and help reach the President’s goal of doubling our clean energy in the next 25 years.”

The SunShot initiative will in addition to investing in solar cell technologies and manufacturing improvements, also focus on steps to streamline and digitalize local permitting processes – reducing installation and permitting costs for solar PV.

SunShot’s Four Main Focus Pillars:

  1. Technologies for solar cells and arrays that convert sunlight to energy;
  2. Electronics that optimize the performance of the installation;
  3. Improvements in the efficiency of solar manufacturing processes; and
  4. Installation, design and permitting for solar energy systems.

US$1/W Goal

In a conference call on Friday February 4, Chu says: “The program is designed to bring down the cost of large-scale installation to roughly US$1/W, which would correspond to roughly US$0.06/kWh cost of generating electricity. That would make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy without subsidy of any kind.”

US$27m to 9 Projects

DoE is also making US$27 million available in rewards to 9 new solar projects as part of the SunShot initiative. Five projects will receive US$20m to further develop US supply chains for solar PV manufacturing – including US material and tool suppliers and companies developing technologies that can be adopted directly into current manufacturing processes.

The Energy Secretary underlined the importance of looking at the whole solar PV supply chain: “The module itself is now only about half the cost of the system. And so the improvements have to be throughout the whole system.”

The remaining US$7m is to fund the latest round of the solar PV Incubator program.

Obama’s Commitment to Clean Energy

Chu was asked at the launch, about President Obama’s commitment to climate change and clean energy in his State of the Union address, where the President envisaged 80% clean energy by 2035. This figure, however, included clean coal and nuclear, and the President did not mention climate change.

Chu responded: “It doesn’t lessen the President’s commitment to growing clean energy that will reduce the carbon emissions substantially.” Furthermore, using clean energy does not only make environmental sense, “but you also want to do it because of the incredible economic opportunity it presents to the United States. And the fact that other countries see this opportunity and because of that are making anything having to do with clean energy, energy efficiency a key part of their national plans. … This is an economic opportunity that we cannot afford not to participate in.”

Challenged on the need for a Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), Chu said: “In the State of the Union address, the President said we want to work with Congress to develop a clean energy standard. A clean energy standard would then promote wind and solar. This would be a Federal standard that promote solar and wind, and nuclear, and clean coal, and clean gas.”

He said the Government will not issue a standard that determines what amount of which clean technology should be used, because “different states will have different appetites for different resources and different ways of solving the overall issue.”

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, Investment and Markets  •  Solar Electricity


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