The DOE SunShot Initiative is a national effort to support solar energy adoption by making solar energy affordable for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. SunShot funds cooperative research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects by private companies, universities, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity.
When SunShot was launched in 2011, it set a goal for solar energy to become cost-competitive with traditional forms of electricity by 2020 without subsidies. This goal set cost targets at $0.09 per kilowatt hour for residential photovoltaics (PV), $0.07 per kilowatt hour for commercial PV, and $0.06 per kilowatt hour for utility-scale PV. In May 2016, SunShot released On the Path to SunShot, a series of eight research papers that examined the progress made toward the SunShot’s goals. It found that, just five years into the initiative, the solar industry had achieved 70% of the progress toward the 2020 goals, spurring the department to determine new targets beyond 2020.
In November 2016, the SunShot Initiative announced further cost targets to be achieved by 2030: $0.05 per kilowatt hour for residential PV, $0.04 per kilowatt hour for commercial PV, and $0.03 per kilowatt hour for utility-scale PV. These cost targets inform the decisions SunShot makes to spur the country’s solar market and drive deployment of solar energy. As the cost of solar comes down, more Americans can take advantage of the clean, affordable power that solar provides. Learn more about SunShot’s vision and goals.
The SunShot Initiative is managed by the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), which is the primary office within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that funds innovations in solar power. Oversight is provided by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
Energy Department (See full organization chart)
- Office of the Under Secretary of Science and Energy
- Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Solar Energy Technologies Office, also commonly referred to as the SunShot Initiative
- Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The director of the SunShot Initiative is Dr. Charlie Gay. See SunShot’s leadership team.
The SunShot Initiative is comprised of five subprograms:
- Photovoltaics – SunShot’s photovoltaics subprogram works with industry, academia, national laboratories, and other government agencies to advance solar PV. This team supports research and development to aggressively advance PV technology by improving efficiency, energy yield, reliability and lowering manufacturing costs. SunShot’s PV portfolio spans work from early-stage solar cell research through technology commercialization, including work on materials, processes, and device structure and characterization techniques.
- Concentrating Solar Power – SunShot’s concentrating solar power (CSP) subprogram supports the development of novel CSP technologies that will help to lower cost, increase efficiency, and provide more reliable performance when compared to current technologies. These projects demonstrate new concepts in the collector, receiver, thermal storage, heat transfer fluids, and power cycle subsystems, as well as technologies that will lower operations and management costs. The SunShot CSP subprogram is most interested in transformative concepts with the potential to break through existing performance barriers, such as efficiency and temperature limitations.
- Systems Integration –SunShot’s systems integration subprogram works to enable the widespread deployment of safe, reliable, and cost effective solar energy on the nation’s electricity grid by addressing the associated technical challenges and regulatory requirements. The systems integration team focuses on the research and development of cost effective technologies and solutions that enable the sustainable and holistic integration of hundreds of gigawatts of solar generation onto the power grid.
- Soft Costs –SunShot’s soft costs subprogram works to develop strategies and solutions that directly reduce the costs and barriers to solar access and deployment. It supports leaders at the local level in developing innovative strategies and solutions that make going solar faster, cheaper, and easier. SunShot-funded programs build networks to support the development and diffusion of proven and effective programs that establish clear pathways for sustainable solar deployment across the U.S., for the benefit of all Americans.
- Technology to Market – SunShot’s technology to market subprogram works to move new solar technologies and business models to the market. Technology to market targets two significant funding gaps: funding of commercial prototype development and funding of commercial scale-up. The subprogram funds projects that address innovations in solar, energy grid, technology performance, supply chain, and manufacturing. The subprogram also supports innovative business platform development.
What We Do
SunShot funds cooperative research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects by private companies, universities, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity. We work to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for Americans to choose solar energy to power their daily lives. View SunShot’s open funding opportunities.
Each of the subprograms issues funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) developed through a collaborative process that work to achieve the SunShot goals. Adhering to an open, highly competitive solicitation process, these funding opportunities encourage collaborative partnerships among industry, universities, national laboratories, federal, state, and local governments and non-government agencies and advocacy groups.
After FOA applications undergo a rigorous peer-evaluated selection process, projects are selected for negotiation to receive SunShot funding. Upon the successful completion of this negotiation process, including collaboration on a statement of project objectives, milestones, and budgets, projects can begin. After projects are selected, the FOA is now officially a DOE funding program. View SunShot’s funding programs in each of the subprograms here: photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, systems integration, soft costs, and technology to market.
WHY IT MATTERS
Reaching the SunShot cost goals will drive adoption of solar across America, supporting national goals for energy security, climate change mitigation, and low cost electricity. Meeting these cost targets would allow solar to play a significant role in meeting the nation’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
A future in which the SunShot Initiative meets its goals will ultimately benefit every American by:
- Making clean, low-cost, reliable solar energy available for home owners, communities, businesses, and government
- Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that contribute to climate change.
- Establishing U.S. leadership in clean energy
- Creating U.S. jobs through domestic production of solar materials and equipment, manufacturing, distribution, financing, installation, and maintenance.
SUNSHOT SUCCESS STORIES
With nearly 300 projects, SunShot’s work helps to drive costs down and spur the solar market. Our Success Stories help to show the specific, measurable results from these projects. From solar cell technology breakthroughs to the software platforms and unlikely partnerships that are helping to reduce costs, these stories highlight the work behind SunShot’s historic progress.