Solar America

Source: IEA/IRENA Renewables Policies Database
Last updated: 24 August 2021
The Solar America Initiative was a Department of Energy (DOE) effort to make solar photovoltaic energy cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity by 2015. The strategy pursues complementary activities in research and development (R & D) and in market transformation. The goals are to reduce costs through R & D and to eliminate market barriers through deployment. To achieve its goals, the Solar America Initiative partnered with industry, universities, state governments, federal agencies and other non-governmental agencies. The initiative involved a two-pronged approach emphasizing the following activities: 1) R & D in material sciences and solar manufacturing processes; 2) market transformation to remove barriers to the acceptance of new solar technologies in the marketplace. Intended benefits include: - boosting the economy by creating a US-based solar industry; - increasing energy security by diversifying the nations electricity portfolio; - decreasing the effect of power outages on cities; and - reducing the impact on the environment of power generation from fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and natural gas; By 2015, it is intended that photovoltaics will: - provide 5-10 gigawatts of new electric capacity (enough to power 1-2 million homes) to the US grid; - avoid 10 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; and - employ 30,000 new workers. In November 2007 the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced an investment of up to USD 5.2 million over two years to support the development of low-cost Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) as part of the Solar America Initiative. CSP systems use the heat generated by concentrating and absorbing the suns energy to produce thermal energy. This type of solar energy can be used immediately for generating power through a steam turbine or heat engine or it can be saved as thermal energy for later use. With cost-sharing, the total public-private investment will total nearly USD 6.6 million. Twelve CSP projects were selected for negotiation of awards. Projects categories include: (1) thermal storage; (2) trough component manufacturing; and (3) advanced CSP systems and/or components. These projects aim to develop technology that dramatically reduces the cost of CSP power and emphasises the development of storage technologies. Specifically, CSP project goals include reducing the cost of solar power to be regularly available at less USD 10 cents/kWh by 2015. The Solar America Initiative ended in 2009 when its objectives became integrated with the DOEs Solar Energy Technologies Program.

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