Of this funding, US$50m comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The 47 solar projects with universities, electric power utilities, the Department of Energy’s (DoE) National Laboratories, and local governments have been selected to “support use of solar technologies in US cities, help address technical challenges, ensure reliable connectivity with the electrical grid, and train a new generation of solar workers to install and maintain solar energy systems.”
“The projects will help accelerate the use of solar energy by residents, businesses and communities, and promote the long-term viability of solar energy by investing in the technologies of the future,” Chu says.
The selected solar technology projects could help accelerate the commercialisation of solar technologies in an effort to achieve cost-competitive solar electricity by 2015, in addition to developing advanced solar technologies for the future.
The solar projects focus on both technology improvements and the elimination of market barriers to help make solar electricity accessible to a wide variety of consumers.
The projects selected for negotiation of awards are in four categories:
- High Penetration Solar Deployment – 7 projects will model, test, and evaluate the impact of large amounts of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity on the reliability and stability of the electric power system. These projects could help pave the way for broader adoption and growth of grid-tied solar energy systems by improving understanding of the impact of solar PV electricity on the grid.
- Solar America Cities Special Projects – as the load centres of energy use across the nation, cities play a strategic role in accelerating solar technology adoption at the local level. 16 cities have been selected for projects that will address specific barriers to solar adoption in urban settings and support innovative approaches that can be widely replicated. Many cities will use this funding for multiple efforts.
- Solar Installer Training – 9 colleges, universities, and local organisations have been selected to lead regional solar installation ‘train-the-trainer’ programmes. The projects will support a national ramp-up and coordinated network of training programmes. This funding could help address the critical needs for qualified solar energy system installers.
- Research projects at DoE National Laboratories – 15 projects at DoE National Laboratories will seek to improve technologies, devices and processes for both the solar PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) industry. Solar PV projects focus on development of next generation devices and processes, as well as supply chain technologies for the entire PV system. CSP projects focus on improved energy storage technologies to enable consistent and reliable energy generation.