Energy Department Announces $60 Million for Solar Power
October 23, 2013
The Energy Department on October 22 announced about $60 million in funding to support innovative solar energy research and development. As part of the Department’s SunShot Initiative, these awards will help lower the cost of solar electricity, advance seamless grid integration, and support a growing U.S. solar workforce.
The awards include approximately $16 million to four projects that will help develop solar devices that near the theoretical efficiency limits of single junction solar cells, or about 30% efficiency. The Energy Department is also awarding about $7 million to develop stronger, more reliable solar components as well as dependable performance tests for microinverters and microconverters. They provide easier installation and more effective capture of energy for both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power systems.
The Energy Department is investing about $8 million to help utilities forecast and integrate high levels of renewable energy generation into the grid, while ensuring reliable and affordable power. For example, AWS Truepower will help California utilities feed cost-competitive distributed solar directly into the power grid, while the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association will help 150 U.S. counties deploy new solar capacity and model streamlined financing and installation processes for electric cooperatives nationwide.
The Department is awarding about $15 million to develop power engineering curriculum and launch four regional training consortiums. Led by U.S. universities, utilities, and industry, these consortiums will train the next generation of energy engineers, system operators, and utility professionals. The Energy Department is also awarding about $1 million to Delaware State University and the University of Texas at San Antonio to provide solar energy research and education opportunities to minority students. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. See the Energy Department press release and the SunShot Initiative website.