U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman has announced that the DOE will make available nearly $60 million to increase the use of solar power across the country, building on the President’s commitment to further the development of clean, renewable energy technologies. Secretary Bodman announced: up to $2.5 million for Solar America Cities cooperative agreements, in which 13 selected cities will receive awards to promote increased use of solar-powered technologies throughout each city; the issuance of a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $30 million for universities to research near-term improvements in solar products; and the competitive selection of 10 cost-shared Photovoltaic (PV) Module Incubator projects that will receive up to $27 million in DOE funding over 18 months.
“We believe these projects will stimulate activity in the marketplace and create a ripple effect that will boost the use of solar energy across the country,” Secretary Bodman said. “Harnessing more of the sun’s power is central to reaching the President’s goal of increasing our nation’s energy security by pushing forward clean, renewable technologies that will allow us to become less reliant on imported sources of energy.”
Secretary Bodman made these announcements while delivering keynote remarks at the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York. Secretary Bodman highlighted President Bush’s Solar America Initiative (SAI), which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity by 2015, and is integral to the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI). The AEI seeks to change the way we power our homes, offices, and vehicles by increasing the use of clean, renewable energy technologies.
The 2007 Solar America Cities are: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Diego, California; San Francisco, California; and Tucson, Arizona.
Subject to negotiation of final terms, DOE will provide a total of $2.5 million in financial assistance to the 13 competitively selected, cost-shared, two-year projects. Additionally, DOE will provide hands-on assistance from technical and policy experts to help cities integrate solar technologies into city energy planning, zoning, and facilities; to streamline city-level regulations and practices that affect solar adoption by residents and local businesses; and to promote solar technology through outreach, curriculum development, and incentive programs.
Solar America Cities have been identified as large cities with high electricity demand, and represent a diverse geography, population, and maturity of solar infrastructure. Cities were selected based on their plan and commitment to a comprehensive, citywide approach to the deployment of solar technologies. Their efforts will improve the ability of citizens and businesses to adopt solar technology locally, and will provide a model that other cities across the country can follow. Subject to evaluation by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, as well as appropriations from Congress, DOE plans to select a new round of Solar America Cities in 2008.
In support of research and development that will lower costs, increase availability, and improve the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) solar products, Secretary Bodman also announced the issuance of a $30 million (FY 2008-2010) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). Over the next three years, this funding will support university work on materials and process research to yield near-term improvements in solar products. Funding is subject to Congressional appropriations. Projects funded through this solicitation also further President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative, which commits to investing in our next generation of scientists, engineers and educators so America can continue to successfully compete in the 21st century global marketplace.
While delivering keynote remarks to ACORE’s Renewable Energy Finance Forum, Secretary Bodman also announced the competitive selection of ten cost-shared Photovoltaic Module Incubator projects. In total, these projects, subject to negotiation of final terms and Congressional appropriations, will receive up to $27 million in DOE funding over 18 months (Fiscal Years 2007-2009). With a minimum 20% cost share from industry, the total research investment is expected to reach $71 million. In these projects, businesses will address the challenges related to reducing cost, improving performance, and expanding manufacturing capacity of innovative PV technologies to move from small-scale to pilot production.
Incubator project funding is structured so that companies receive funding from the Department only upon successful performance of pre-specified new hardware. This approach allows the Department to remove some administrative reviews and planning paperwork so early-stage companies can focus on technology development; taxpayers are also assured real value for their investment in these high-risk/high-return projects. Contingent on congressional appropriations, the Department will provide opportunities for new companies to enter this program every nine months.
The following companies have been selected to participate in the PV Incubator Projects: AVA Solar (Fort Collins, Colorado); Blue Square Energy (North East, Maryland); CaliSolar (Menlo Park, California); EnFocus Engineering (Sunnyvale, California); MicroLink Devices (Niles, Illinois); Plextronics (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); PrimeStar Solar (Golden, Colorado); Solaria (Fremont, California); SolFocus (Palo Alto, California); and SoloPower (Milpitas, California).