The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy today announced a commitment for its SunShot Initiative to cut the cost of solar-generated electricity by 50% between 2020 and 2030. This new target is a reflection of the SunShot Initiative’s leadership in helping the industry reach more than 90% of its established 2020 goal in five years. Additionally, the Energy Department announced up to $65 million for three new funding opportunities, subject to congressional appropriations, that will further drive down the cost of solar energy and accelerate widespread deployment.
“Both SunShot and the solar industry have made major strides to reduce costs for innovative technologies which resulted in dramatic market growth and the creation of hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” said Acting Assistant Secretary David Friedman. “These new goals and funding will further push down costs, save American consumers and businesses money, and create even more jobs.”
At these low costs, electricity from utility-scale solar would be among the least expensive options for new power plant generation, further driving down the cost of electricity generation. Reductions in commercial and residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) costs would help to increase deployment for businesses and homes nationwide.
New SunShot Initiative 2030 Goals
The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative was launched in 2011 with the goal of making solar electricity cost-competitive with traditional energy sources without subsidies by 2020. In just five years the SunShot Initiative and the U.S. solar industry have achieved more than 90% of the established 2020 goal to reduce the cost of utility-scale solar PV electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Utility-scale solar electricity costs now average $0.07 per kilowatt-hour. The new SunShot 2030 targets are $0.03 per kilowatt-hour for utility-scale PV, $0.04 per kilowatt-hour for commercial PV, and $0.05 per kilowatt-hour for residential PV. These targets are for areas with average U.S. climate and without subsidies. In the sunnier regions of the country, achieving the SunShot 2030 targets would mean costs of $0.02 per kilowatt-hour for utility-scale solar.
The program has also surpassed 70% of its commercial and residential cost targets in just five years showing that the market is on track to achieve these goals by 2020. Recent modeling suggests that achieving the 2030 new targets could more than double the projected amount of nationwide electricity demand that could be met by solar in 2030 and beyond.
$65 Million to Continue Momentum Toward SunShot Goals
To support these new goals the Energy Department is now accepting applications for three funding opportunities under the SunShot Initiative’s PV Research and Development Program, Technology to Market Program, and Systems Integration Program. All three of these funding programs seek projects that can help to cut the cost of solar power to meet the new 2030 SunShot cost targets and make solar power more affordable and accessible for every American. The PV Research and Development Program is making up to $25 million available to improve PV module and system design, including hardware and software solutions that facilitate the rapid installation and interconnection of PV systems. The Technology to Market Program has $30 million available for projects that accelerate the commercialization of products and solutions that can help to drive down the cost of solar energy. Finally, SunShot is making up to $10 million available under its Systems Integration Program for projects focused on improving solar irradiance and power forecasts used by utilities.