The Department of Energy will be funding high efficiency, low cost solar energy projects through its new SunShot initiative funding. It will give a total of $145 million to 69 projects in 24 states across the country. The amount is small compared to the amount of public financing for solar projects around the world but it is still surprising how it was approved considering that Congress is busy these days of cutting clean energy funds from the DOE’s budget.
The SunShot Initiative is created by the Department of Energy to make the costs of solar power be at the same level of conventional energy sources. It would support new high-efficiency solar PV technology as well as projects that would lower the cost of installation and manufacturing of solar panels.
It would include projects to support the migration to streamlined administrative procedures that include zoning laws and building codes. Projects that would lessen the amount of time to make new technologies out of the prototype phase and into production will also be supported by the DOE initiative.
The SunShot Initiative is focused on short term goals and a large portion of the funds will be used to bring down the cost of balance of system hardware, which refers to everything except for solar cells. These are inverters, racks, batteries, and other components of a solar installation. These make up 40 percent of the total cost of a solar power installation. If the Department of Energy managed to be successful in this area then it would give a huge impact on the cost of install solar panels. Innovations in the field of low cost solar cell would just be bonus in the future.
The Department of Energy will also give funding to overcome the barriers that keep prototypes locked away in the lab. Most of the time, technology that performs well in the lab tend to lose its effectiveness during the production model.
Other projects that would be funded by the SunShot Initiative would involve smart grid development, administrative streamlining, next-gen photovoltaic technology, and the SunShot Incubator, which will be used for private investment.
The SunShot Incubator is an expanded version of a similar program that was started under the Bush administration. The DOE said that it helped raise $1.3 billion in private investment from just $60 million for solar projects.
The Department of Defense has also started with its own solar power projects for its military facilities. Not only that, it also began other clean energy projects such as waste and water conservation projects and landfill gas.