The Energy Department announced on February 12, 2014 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.
A February 13, 2014 Energy Department Press Release at http://tinyurl.com/k2vdkbb reported that a new industry report which found that U.S. utility-scale solar set a record with 2.3 gigawatts installed in 2013. As the first commercial deployment of innovative power tower CSP technology in the United States, the Ivanpah project was the recipient of a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO).
Ivanpah has the capacity to generate 392 megawatts (MW) of clean electricity -- enough to power 94,400 average American homes -- most of which will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements to Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison Company. The project is a joint effort by NRG, Google, and BrightSource Energy, and Bechtel served as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor.
Ivanpah is one of five CSP projects that received loan guarantees from the Department, and when these projects are completed, they will provide a combined 1.26 gigawatts (GW) of electric capacity. These loan guarantees, are also helping to finance the first solar thermal storage project and the first power tower with solar thermal storage in the U.S., as well as some of the world’s largest parabolic trough CSP plants. In addition to construction, operations and maintenance jobs, these projects are creating jobs in a national supply chain that reaches 39 states.
Currently, the LPO supports a large, diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion supporting more than 30 closed and committed projects. The LPO portfolio includes one of the world’s largest wind farms; several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems; the first new commercial nuclear power plant to be licensed and built in the United States in three decades; and more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants across the country. Learn more at http://lpo.energy.gov.
A December 13, 2013 release at http://tinyurl.com/ky6bt9x noted that according to a new U.S. solar industry report , the U.S. solar market continues to grow – reaching record-breaking levels. In Q3 2013, the United States installed 930 megawatts of photovoltaic, up 20 percent over Q2 2013 and representing the second largest quarter in solar installations in U.S. history. Cumulatively, solar capacity has already surpassed 10 gigawatts and by the end of the year more than 400,000 solar projects will be operating across the country.
U.S. Department of Energy www.energy.gov
Press Releases dated December 13, 2013 and February 12 and 13, 2014