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USA's Sunshot To Decrease Cost Of Solar Energy

 

by Energy Matters


Once again the USA’s relentless desire to be number one in a particular scientific field looks set to usher in a new age of innovation and technological wonder – remember Velcro? Tang? Moonboots? All legacies of that great 20th century rivalry between America and Russia: the space race. 
 
This time however, the goal isn’t to beat the Soviets to the moon, but to reduce the cost of solar energy by 75 percent by 2020. 
 
This would put it on roughly equal footing with energy sourced from fossil fuels. It’s all part of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Program (the name is a play on President John F. Kennedy's 1960s "moon shot" goal). The DOE hopes cut the cost of generating solar energy to around $1 per watt – about 6 cents per kilowatt hour – which would allow super-cheap solar production to roll out across the nation.
 
What makes the SunShot goal truly stellar in its scope is that it plans to achieve solar energy cost parity on a large scale throughout America by the end of the decade without subsidies. Instead the DOE will award $27 million in projects to support the development, commercialisation, and manufacturing of advanced solar energy technologies.
 
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu’s recent comment, made after his "Energy Matters" briefing, seemed to indicate he thinks the SunShot Program would rival the space program for national importance and world standing.
  
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 U.S. global leadership in this growing industry," he said.
   
SunShot will work to bring down the full cost of solar - including the costs of the solar cells and installation - by focusing on four main pillars: 
    
- Technologies for solar cells and arrays that convert sunlight to energy; 
- Electronics that optimise the performance of the installation; 
- Improvements in the efficiency of solar manufacturing processes; 
- Installation, design and permitting for solar energy systems. 
  
 
    

 

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