On Thursday, the Biden administration committed more than $80 million in financing to boost American solar panel production, expand access to solar energy, and find better replacements for silicon-based solar panels, which are now the industry standard.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to visit a community solar facility in Washington in the afternoon after the Department of Energy announced the investments in the morning. Community solar refers to several situations where tenants and persons without access to their rooftops can still use solar energy to generate their electricity.
Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled the most significant community solar initiative in the history of the United States two weeks ago, according to the government.
Presently, it plans to invest $52 million in 19 solar projects spread over 12 states, including $10 million from the infrastructure bill and $30 million in technology that will aid in the grid integration of solar power.
The DOE also chose 25 teams to participate in a $10 million competition to help solar developers working on solar community projects move more quickly.
Large solar power projects are already eligible for incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act, such as renewable energy tax credits.
However, according to Ali Zaidi, White House national climate advisor, the increased funding is concentrated on achieving the country’s climate goals in a way that helps more areas.
“It advances both our communities and our workforce. And I believe that’s what motivates us to do this work, added Zaidi. It’s an opportunity not just to address the climate catastrophe but also to expand economic opportunities across the whole United States.
According to Becca Jones-Albertus, head of the energy department’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the investments would lower people’s power costs and increase the electrical grid’s dependability, security, and resilience in the face of climate change.
Since half of Americans don’t live where they can purchase their solar and install it on the roof, Jones-Albertus said she is particularly thrilled about the support for solar community projects.
ICF Climate Center executive director Michael Jung concurred. “Community solar can help address equity concerns, as most current rooftop solar panels benefit owners of single-family homes,” he claimed.
Common community solar projects allow homeowners to buy into or subscribe to a portion of a more extensive off-site solar installation. According to Jones-Albertus, what we’re doing here is attempting to open up the market for community solar.
According to the most recent estimates, there are presently 5.3 gigawatts of installed community solar capacity in the United States. According to Jones-Albertus, the objective is for five million households, or almost three times as many as there are right now, to have access to it by 2025, saving $1 billion in power costs.
The new financing also emphasizes spending on solar technology for the next generation, designed to generate more power from a given number of solar panels.
Most solar panels are made of crystalline silicon solar cells, which now only convert around 20% of the sun’s energy into electricity.
Higher efficiency has long been a goal, and today’s announcement allocates funding to the research and development of two potential alternatives: perovskite and cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells.
This, according to Zaidi, will enable the United States to serve as “the innovation engine that tackles the climate crisis.”