U.S. DOE Targets Major Reduction in Cost of Solar Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today an ambitious goal to slash the cost of solar energy by more than half by 2030, supporting the Biden administration’s goals to dramatically boost the use and availability of renewable power and decarbonize the energy system.
The DOE also committed $128 million in funding to lower costs, improve performance, and speed the deployment of solar energy technologies.
Renewable energy investments form a major part of several countries commitments to address climate change and work towards developing net zero economies. In November last year, the European Commission published its EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy, presenting plans for massive investments of up to €800 billion in offshore wind capacity over the next several years. Earlier this year, South Korea announced plans to construct the world’s largest offshore wind farm, estimated to cost over $43 billion.
The Biden administration has put climate change front and center in its policy agenda, beginning with returning the country to the Paris Agreement on his first day in office. The President has announced a goal to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, including a call for significant growth in renewable energy sources, and aiming to double offshore wind capacity by 2030.
The DOE stated that it is targeting solar cost reductions of 60% over the next 10 years, aiming for 2 cents/kWh by 2030 from 4.6 cents today, with an interim target of 3 cents by 2025. The department said solar energy could make up between 30% and 50% of electricity supply by 2035.
Funding from the new plan will target advancements in materials and technologies to improve the production of solar energy. More than $60 million will fund perovskites and cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film technologies, with nearly $60 million earmarked for concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) projects that capture heat from sunlight, using thermal energy to spin a turbine or power an engine that then generates electricity. $7 million will fund projects to increase the lifetime of silicon-based PV systems from about 30 years to 50 years.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said:
“In many parts of the country, solar is already cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels, and with more innovation we can cut the cost again by more than half within the decade. This first burst of funding will help us add even more affordable clean energy to the grid, jobs to communities across the country, and will put us on the fast track toward President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.”