With the price of oil cratering, the Obama administration has once again decided to throw millions at solar power to see what works.
The Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative announced a $45 million Technology to Market funding opportunity for disruptive innovations that can leap from laboratory development to “ubiquitous solar” deployment, without losing too much time or money. Meanwhile in the deployment department, Sunshot’s Solar Market Pathways projects at state and local jurisdictions, universities, utilities and other organizations landed $14 million to strategize innovations for accelerated adoption.
California was well represented by San Diego’s Center for Sustainable Energy, Lafayette’s Extensible Energy and San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, who were respectively awarded hundreds of thousands to upgrade America’s net metering, battery storage and disaster preparedness games. The East coast got into the mix as well, from a resilience consortium at City University of New York working with SolarCity, General Electric and the Mayor himself on resilient infrastructure, to rural colleges and utilities in Virginia analyzing deployment and soft costs, and more.
The hope is $14 million can go a long way toward helping organizations like The Solar Foundation evangelize property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, for example, while providing “case studies and lessons learned” that can be nationally “replicated,” the DOE’s $59 million statement explained. The application for Sunshot’s $45 million tech-to-market incubator is pretty clear that the solutions it is funding are “expected to aid in achieving a ubiquitous solar energy solution and provide a clear path for these highly impactful technologies and solutions to rapidly reach market success.”
To that end, the Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative is funding millions in five hardware tiers, from proof-of-concept to prototype and pilot manufacturing, and two soft-cost tiers evolving business solutions and plans forward to “full commercialization.” Sunshot‘s previous funding initiatives in 2012, 2013 and 2014 had usually been separated by incubator, manufacturing and scaling stages. But this year, the three phases have been hopefully fused into an interlinked $45 million gamble for immediate impact, from the lab to the market with disruption as the mission.
“As the price of solar continues to drop, the Energy Department is committed to supporting a robust domestic solar manufacturing sector that will help American business meet growing demand and help American families and businesses save money by making solar a cheaper and more accessible source of clean electricity,” explained Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. With the price of the international oil benchmark down by nearly 50 percent (and likely sinking), the political and economic will for accelerated solar adoption seems to be smartly cashing in on current events.
This article appeared at Solar Energy