Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the launch of “America’s Most Affordable Rooftop Solar competition,” a challenge to U.S. teams to quickly drive down the cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems and spur greater use of low-cost residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu delivers the keynote address at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit in Denver.
Speaking at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit in Denver, Chu said the rooftop solar competition offers a total of $10 million in prize money to the first three U.S. teams that can install 5,000 rooftop solar PV systems at an average price of $2 per watt.
With that ambitious target, the Department of Energy said the competition aims to spur “creative public-private partnerships, original business models and innovative approaches to make solar energy affordable for millions of families and businesses.”
More information: America’s Most Affordable Rooftop Solar competition.
Chu also announced up to $8 million in funding to support nine “highly innovative” startups through the SunShot Incubator program. DOE said the companies are developing “transformative solutions” to streamline solar installation processes such as financing, permitting, and inspection.
|DOE said Abound Solar is using an innovative process initially developed at Colorado State University and refined with help from DOE’s PV Incubator to manufacture low-cost, thin-film Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) PV modules at commercial scale.|
The full list of projects can be viewed at SunShot Soft Cost Incubator projects.
DOE also announced new investments in 21 projects aimed at advancing concentrating solar-power technology (CSP), with the $56 million total subject to congressional appropriations.
The research projects, conducted in partnership with private industry, national laboratories, and universities, support the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar power cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.
DOE said the awards “will help speed innovations in new components to lower costs, increase operating temperatures and improve the efficiency of CSP systems,” and are intended to achieve “dramatic improvements in CSP performance, while driving progress toward the SunShot goal of 75% cost reduction.”
CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which is then used to produce electricity. CSP systems are distinguished from other solar energy technologies by their ability to store energy as heat so that consumer demand can be met even when the sun is not shining, including during the night. These systems can be combined with existing fossil-fuel plants to allow for flexible power generation.
The full list of awards can be seen at SunShot CSP R&D 2012.
DOE said the announcements support an “aggressive” goal of achieving cost-competitive solar energy by 2020.
“The Summit in Denver this week is convening the best and brightest minds in the solar industry to assess progress and plot the path forward toward the SunShot goal of solar price parity,” DOE said.
“As President Obama has repeatedly said, we need an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that deploys every available source of American energy, driving job creation, energy innovation and manufacturing leadership in our country,” Chu said.
“Through the SunShot Initiative, we're tackling the technological, scientific and market barriers facing America's solar industry to make sure solar power continues to play an important role in our diverse energy mix,” Chu added. “The investments in American start-ups and the new competition announced today further our efforts to seize on the tremendous global market for clean energy technologies, representing hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide.”