The Dept. of Energy’s so-called SunShot Initiative will receive a boost of up to $107 million in new projects and planned funding, DOE announced on Sept. 14. A total of $42 million will be invested to improve solar photovoltaic performance, reliability and manufacturability and enable greater market penetration for solar technologies. In addition, DOE intends to provide up to $65 million, subject to appropriation, in additional funding for upcoming solar research-and-development projects to continue to drive down the cost of solar energy and accelerate widespread national deployment.
One of SunShot’s goals is to drive down the levelized cost of utility-scale solar electricity—to 6¢ per kilowatt-hour by 2020, without incentives. The program has achieved considerable success since it began, in February 2011. DOE reports that the solar industry already is more than 70% of the way to achieving SunShot’s cost target. In October 2015, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that the global average levelized cost of electricity for crystalline-silicon PV solar had fallen to 12.2¢/kWh. In some parts of the U.S., power purchase agreements have priced solar PV as low as 5¢/kWh.