This week, the U.S. Department Of Energy doubled down yet again on their commitment to growing America’s solar industry by announcing a new fund that will support research in early-stage solar technologies. The program offers a maximum $130 million to the five different categories of research—– photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing, and solar systems integration.
The five areas of research represent the DoE’s multi-pronged approach to making solar power a more viable option in the national energy market. By increasing research into manufacturing, security, and affordability, the DoE hopes to get the newest solar tech into the hands of companies and consumers at a faster rate.
“Solar is an integral part of the Administration’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in the announcement. “This cutting-edge, early stage research & development will work in concert with other innovative technologies to provide affordable, efficient, and reliable energy to the American people.”
The new program, which will be administered through Solar Energies Technology Office, addresses a pressing issue that the solar industry has faced in recent years. Although new solar technology has advanced quickly during R&D, the lack of long-term funding has created a barrier that makes it difficult for the technology to be brought to market. The DoE’s new funding will create a much-needed bridge for solar innovation.
The new announcement comes at the heels of many recent DoE funds aimed at growing the clean energy sector nationwide. On March 25th, the DoE announced $36 million for research into solar power integration in the national grid. The funding is designed to increase the security of our energy infrastructure, a topic that has become pressing as cyberattacks on our grid become more of a concern.
Last year’s Solar Energies Technology office funding advanced a number of important solar initiatives, such as $2 million awarded to The Solar Foundation. The $2 million fund went towards creating a solar apprenticeship program focused on training military veterans and workers from underserved communities.
The DoE’s continuing support of the solar industry means that consumers benefit from these new technologies much sooner than if the industry was solely dependent on private investments from energy companies. With private and public sectors operating together to transition our energy economy to cleaner alternatives, new options will enter the grid at a faster clip nationwide.