On March 25, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shared that it has set a new goal of cutting the cost of solar energy by 60% by 2030 and that it is putting $128 million toward lowering costs, improving performance, and accelerating the development of technologies used.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm noted that solar is already cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels in many parts of the country. She added that the new funding will help bring more affordable clean energy to the national power grid, create jobs, and put the U.S. on track to accomplish the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of having the U.S. powered by 100% clean energy by 2035.
The new solar energy cost reduction target is 5 years earlier than the DOE’s previous goal. Currently, the average U.S. solar kilowatt-hour costs 4.6 cents, and the 60% reduction goal would bring that cost down to 3 cents/kWh by 2025 and 2 cents/kWh by 2030.
The DOE said that by 2035, traditional solar panels could provide between 30% and 50% of the U.S. electricity supply. The new funding will support innovative advancements in perovskites and cadmium telluride — two key materials used to produce solar cells.
Here’s a breakdown of where that $128 million in funding will go:
- $40 million will be devoted to advancing perovskite research and development
- $20 million will support the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in advancing cheaper cadmium telluride thin-film solar technologies
- $3 million will form the Perovskite Startup Prize — a new competition aimed to speed entrepreneurs’ path to commercializing perovskite technologies
- $33 million is devoted to the advancement of projects in concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), which captures heat from sunlight and converts it to energy that spins turbines or powers engines
- $25 million will be utilized to demonstrate a next-generation CSP power plant, built by Sandia National Laboratories.
Additionally, the DOE has made $7 million available for projects that would increase the lifespan of silicon-based photovoltaic systems from their current 30 years to 50 years, which would lower the cost of energy and cut down on waste.
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Story credit: Thomas Insights