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U.S. Utility-Scale Solar 60 Percent Towards Cost-Competition Goal

February 12, 2014 - 11:05am

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WASHINGTON – The Energy Department announced today that the U.S. solar industry is more than 60 percent of the way to achieving cost-competitive utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity – only three years into the Department’s decade-long SunShot Initiative. To help continue this progress, the Energy Department also announced today $25 million in funding to strengthen U.S. solar manufacturing for photovoltaic and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies and to maintain a strong domestic solar industry – supporting the Department’s broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. 

In the State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the United States’ growing role as a global leader in solar as demonstrated in a new industry report which recently found that U.S. utility-scale solar set a record with 2.3 gigawatts installed in 2013. Tomorrow, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will travel to Ivanpah Dry Lake, Calif., to dedicate the world’s largest concentrating solar power plant – continuing U.S. leadership in clean energy.

“In just the last few years, the U.S. has seen remarkable increases in clean and renewable energy – doubling the amount of energy that we produce from solar and wind and supporting a strong, competitive solar supply chain that employs American workers in every state,” said Energy Secretary Moniz. “To continue this growth and position the U.S. as a global leader in clean energy innovation, the Energy Department is helping to advance new technologies that further reduce costs, improve performance and support new jobs and businesses across the country.”

Utility-Scale Photovoltaic 60 Percent Towards Meeting SunShot Goal

In 2011, the Energy Department launched its SunShot Initiative to make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. Through partnerships with industry, universities, local communities and the Department’s national laboratories, the SunShot Initiative is working aggressively to drive innovation and lower the cost of solar energy – from more efficient, high-performing solar modules to streamlined permitting, installation and interconnection processes.

Today, the utility-scale PV industry is more than 60 percent of the way to achieving SunShot’s target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. In the United States, the average price for a utility-scale PV project has dropped from about $0.21 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to $0.11 per kilowatt-hour at the end of 2013. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. electricity price is about $0.12 per kilowatt-hour. Check out a new Energy.gov graph that shows how these costs have fallen in just the last three years.

Reductions in the cost of electricity are based on estimates of the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The LCOE is a measure of the national average of electricity cost based on certain assumptions regarding financing costs and generation availability projected over the life of a generating asset. The LCOE model provides a benchmark for measuring relative changes in electricity costs.

During President Obama’s first term, the United States more than doubled generation of electricity from wind, solar and geothermal sources, and installed solar capacity has grown ten-fold from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 13 gigawatts today. To ensure America’s continued leadership position in clean energy, the President has set a goal to double renewable electricity generation once again by 2020.   

$25 Million to Boost U.S. Solar Manufacturing

Over the last three years, the cost of a solar energy system has dropped by more than 50 percent – helping to give more and more American families and businesses access to affordable, clean energy. Today, the Energy Department announced $25 million in new funding to boost domestic solar manufacturing and speed up the commercialization of efficient, affordable PV and CSP technologies. This funding opportunity will help to further lower the cost of solar electricity, support a growing U.S. solar workforce and increase U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy market.

This new SunShot funding opportunity will support innovative projects that help solar manufacturers tackle key cost-contributors across the hardware supply chain and make improvements in a broad range of manufacturing processes that save time and money. Eligible projects may include developing advanced technology that lowers domestic solar manufacturing costs and developing and demonstrating components or new manufacturing processes that cut project construction and installation time. Find more information on the Solar Manufacturing 2 funding opportunity, including application requirements, HERE.

The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative aims to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional sources of energy by 2020. 

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