On April 17, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced up to $105.5 million to support research in solar technology. Under the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), DOE will fund about 70 projects to advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) technologies, as well as facilitate the secure integration of those technologies into the nation’s electricity grid. Funding will also support efforts that prepare the workforce for the solar industry’s future needs.
“American ingenuity is the engine of our energy economy,” said Secretary Perry in the press release. “Investing in all of our abundant energy sources, including solar technologies, will help to drive down costs and ensure that the nation leads the world in energy production and innovation.”
The funding program will focus on four main areas:
- Advanced Solar Systems Integration Technologies (up to $46 million -- 14 projects)
- Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Research and Development (up to $24 million --21 projects)
- Photovoltaics Research and Development (up to $27 million, -- 28 projects)
- Improving and Expanding the Solar Industry through Workforce Initiatives (up to $8.5 million -- 4 projects)
Within each of the technology areas, DOE will fund projects that develop and test new ways to accelerate the integration of emerging technologies into the solar industry value chain and expand private sector engagement supporting energy innovation, especially those related to financing and commercialization.
The largest solar lobbying group is supportive of the move. Said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), "It is critically important that the United States maintain its global leadership in the development of advanced, high-performing solar technologies for both the photovoltaic and concentrating solar power industries. Prioritizing research and workforce development for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that solar employs is vital.
"Secretary Perry's announcement today is yet another positive step in strengthening this important public-private relationship between the federal government and the American solar industry. We look forward to fulfilling this opportunity with innovative solar projects that drive America's energy economy to a cleaner, more affordable and reliable future."