The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced funding assistance for communities across the country to develop plans for the installation of affordable solar energy and other solar energy projects to the tune of $15 million. This makes it easier and simpler for households as well as businesses to come together in shared, community-based projects using photovoltaic (PV) resources and achieve larger increases in the effort to deploy solar energy extensively.
Preparing to Deploy Multi-Gigawatt Solar Power Projects
Lower manufacturing costs and reduced installation fees of PV systems have enabled them to be affordable for a wider range of solar industry market consumers. According to a DOE report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory or NREL, financing and soft costs (expenses outside of equipment cost and other hardware) comprise almost 64% of the residential solar systems’ total price.
The $15 million Solar Market Pathways of the DOE is a funding opportunity aimed at lowering solar PV panels and arrays to become fully competitive with traditional electricity sources by 2020. This initiative will also prepare the solar energy industry, solar technology, and other stakeholders for the eventual development, construction, installation, operation, and maintenance of future multi-gigawatt solar energy projects.
Accelerating U.S. Efforts
Solar deployment includes these multi-gigawatt projects that require clear paths to tread on in the next ten to 15 years. According to the DOE, the funding opportunity will benefit regional, local, state, and tribal efforts for future solar deployment with the cooperation of or in partnership with leading solar technology partners like Global Solar.
These can all be replicated by the various sectors of the solar industry from driving down soft costs, supporting research and development, and addressing potential challenges which may arise from gradual reduction of dependency on traditional electricity.
While the DOE aims to fulfil U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement that “the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy,” the American solar industry will have to accelerate efforts to provide accessible, affordable, clean, and renewable solar power for its citizens while simultaneously generating employment, reducing carbon emissions, and sustaining economic growth.
A Wind Corridor with 25 Times the Capacity of Roscoe
Although the U.S. has three of the world’s ten largest projects, it stands to lose the number to China, where solar energy projects are on such massive scales that they make other renewable energy plants elsewhere look like Lego installations. China has, in fact, announced its plan to build a wind corridor that has a capacity of 20,000MW, 25 times the capacity of the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas, currently the largest wind project on a global basis.
Multi-gigawatt projects in the solar industry are not easy to undertake in the U.S. because they are considered more risky to invest in. While the perspective from the developer is obviously “bigger is better,” the utility and financiers, however, do not see it the same way. Additionally, smaller projects take shorter periods for completion; this is especially true in the sense that projects have to be operational before subsidies from the Federal government run out.
China’s Use of American Solar Technology
The good news is that China will be using American technology for their enormous solar power plants: PV panels from an Arizona PV farm and solar technology from a solar thermal farm in California. It would not be surprising, either, if China has its additional technology requirements provided by leading manufacturers of flexible solar system technologies like Global Solar.
With products ranging from portable solar power chargers to military applications, Global Solar uses CIGS, an acronym for copper indium gallium diselenide, solar cells which are thin-film ideal for solar jackets with twice the performance efficiency over similarly-manufactured thin-film and flexible solar materials.
Operating the world’s biggest CIGS-powered solar energy array, Global Solar has a 750KW solar power system in Tucson, Arizona where their products are designed and manufactured to be flexible, lightweight, production ready and have more power for performance.