Solar industry hits utility-scale SunShot Initiative cost target, begins new focus

Published on September 19, 2017 by Alex Murtha

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The solar industry has achieved the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the SunShot Initiative due to rapid cost declines in solar photovoltaic hardware, according to recently-published research from Solar Power International and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“The SunShot Initiative has made significant contributions to lowering the cost of solar power nationwide and advancing critical, innovative research and we appreciate the Trump administration’s recognition of this,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said.

Currently supplying approximately 1.5 percent of the nation’s electricity, the sector’s output has grown considerably in the last 10 years, growing from 1.1 gigawatts in 2007 to an estimated 47.1 gigawatts in 2017.

According to the DOE, the SunShot Initiative has since expanded its goal for 2030 for its Solar Energy Technologies Office to include funding new research programs in grid reliability, resilience and power storage.

Daniel Simmons, acting assistant secretary for the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, also announced up to $82 million in early-stage research — $62 million of which will support advances in concentrating solar power technologies to enable on-demand solar energy and up to $20 million in dedicated to early-stage projects to advance power electronics technologies.

Each awardee will be required to contribute approximately 20 percent of the funds toward the overall project budget which, according to the department, could yield total public-private spending of approximately $100 million.

“With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges,” Simmons said. “As we look to the future, DOE will focus new solar R&D on the Secretary’s priorities, which include strengthening the reliability and resilience of the electric grid while integrating solar energy.”