In 2011, solar power comprised of less than 0.1% of the U.S. electricity supply, whereas today it consists of about 2.3% of total U.S. electricity in 2020. What lead to major adoption of solar energy in our day-to-day life and in our business? Decreasing cost and climate change.
Cost reduction is an essential aspect for escalating solar deployment. To address the climate emergency, the rate of solar deployment must increase two to five times. It is quite unachievable without the support of the government. Hence, to achieve President Biden’s climate goal, The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an ambitious new target to cut the cost of solar energy.
Notably, in the next ten years, DOE grant nearly USD128 million in funding to lower the costs, improve performance, and speed the deployment of solar energy technologies throughout the country. These investments will not only support the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 but will also pave the way for an affordable decarbonization of the energy system and a robust clean energy economy.
DOE is accelerating its utility-scale solar cost target — setting a new goal of driving down the current cost of 4.6 cents per kWh to 3 cents/kWh by 2025 and 2 cents/kWh by 2030. Such funding and initiatives from the government’s end will not only help a nation to achieve carbon neutrality early but will also add thousands or may be millions of employment opportunities to market, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
The department had already constituted a dedicated department namely The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) long ago. SETO funds early-stage research and development in three technology areas: photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), and systems integration. The department (SETO) get the major share of the funding whereas other are as follows:
$40 million for perovskite R&D: Perovskites are a family of emerging solar materials that have potential to make highly efficient thin-film solar cells with very low production costs.
$3 million Perovskite Startup Prize: This new prize competition will speed entrepreneurs’ path to commercializing perovskite technologies by providing seed capital for their newly formed companies.
$20 million for CdTe thin films: For advancement of cheaper CdTe thin-film solar technologies. This will lead to increased opportunities for U.S. entrepreneurs to capture a larger portion of the billion-dollar global solar manufacturing sector.
$7 million for projects related to advancement of lifetime of silicon-based PV systems from about 30 years to 50 years. This will automatically help lower the cost of energy and reduce waste.
$33 million for CSP advances: CSP plants, which can dispatch solar energy whenever it is needed. Funds to identify new solar applications for industrial processes such as cement, stell, glass manufacturing, which contribute 20% of U.S. CO2 emissions and advancement of long-duration thermal-energy storage devices.
$25 million to demonstrate a next-generation CSP power plant: Sandia National Laboratories will receive funding to build a facility where researchers, developers, and manufacturers can test next-generation CSP components and systems.
Consistent with DOE’s commitment to ensuring the benefits of federal funding reach diverse communities, applicants must submit a Diversity and Inclusion Plan and propose measurable actions to increase the participation of underrepresented groups on their teams, in their research, and in the broader community.
Implementation of Solar Energy is already cheaper than coal, and fossil fuels. With the help of such far-reaching funding programs leads to more innovation and maybe we will reduce the cost further.