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US Department of Energy wants solar industry to "shine." Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz explains.

Last month the US Department of Energy announced more than $53 million for 40 innovative research and development projects that aim to drive down the cost of solar energy, tackling key aspects of technology development in order to bring innovative ideas to the market more quickly.   

This latest funding initiative, which builds on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and continue US leadership in clean energy innovation, supports the development of next generation photovoltaic solar technologies and advanced manufacturing processes. Addressing both hardware and non-hardware “soft” costs of solar installation, these awards support advancements will help reduce the cost of solar energy and make solar electricity more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

Funding such as this reflects ongoing support of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, a program designed to develop and implement innovative technologies that seek to reduce costs and increase efficiency in manufacturing processes used to make PV and concentrated solar power technologies.  These investments focus on tackling key cost-contributors such as raw materials, labor-intensive processes, and capital expenses. 

“As US solar installation increases and the cost of solar electricity continues to decline, solar energy is becoming an increasingly affordable clean energy option for more American families and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Today, the US has 15.9 GW of installed solar power – enough to power more than 3.2 million average American homes. These new projects will help the US solar energy industry continue to grow, ensuring that America can capitalize on its vast renewable energy sources, cut carbon pollution, and continue to lead in the world in clean energy innovation.” 

Secretary Moniz laid out the strategy, addressing both accomplishments and challenges, during his keynote address at the 2014 SPI conference and exhibition in Las Vegas earlier this fall. Following are excerpts of his presentation: 

     I have been travelling around the country to discuss a whole range of issues, including clean energy manufacturing and jobs, energy security, unconventional oil and gas, the role of universities, next-generation bioenergy and advancing our clean energy across the board.
     “The reasons why we’re doing this are clear: we’re developing clean energy is support of three overarching goals: grow the economy and create good jobs; address the energy and security nexus; and meet our environmental goals by addressing the risks posed by global warming and climate change through mitigation and adaptation. 
     On a general level, we are seeing real progress in all of these dimensions. On the jobs front we are at 55 months and counting, on a streak of increased private sector jobs — which is a record. That’s over 10 million jobs — 700,000 jobs in manufacturing alone. It’s important to note that private research and development funding is associated with more than two-thirds of manufacturing. The energy revolution in natural gas also comes in to this economic growth in manufacturing by providing very competitive process heat for industry. 
     On the issue of security…we have clearly made enormous progress — approximately 85 per cent of our energy is homegrown. But that does not mean we are out of the energy security “woods,” so to speak. Today we understand that energy security is a collective responsibility for our allies and friends. 
     Just as it was recognized when the Department of Energy was formed in the 1970s, in response to the oil shocks, addressing energy security is clearly understood to mean a lot more than diversifying oil supplies; it’s about reducing dependence on oil and — in Europe — natural gas. It’s about advancing energy efficiency, renewables in particular, as ways to enhance security.
     In energy and climate, we have made progress in reduction of CO2 emissions, since the 2005–2007 time frame. But the reality is we still have a long way to go to meet our 2020 target of 70 per cent reduction. Moreover, the challenge will never stop as we continue the drive for lower carbon emissions. Clearly, a technology such as solar power is critical to that. 
     Two important points in the president’s agenda: we will fund technology development in all approaches to lower carbon production, and we will work across the innovation chain to achieve this.
   On the issue of climate change…I would like to highlight something that’s coming more into focus: as we work on mitigating the effects of climate change, we also have to pick up the pace in adapting to what we are seeing around us. I would recommend a report that the Obama Administration put out a few months ago, the ‘Third National Climate Assessment,’ put together by more than 300 scientists over a period of years. It makes a pretty compelling case about the effects that we are already seeing and what we are seeing in different regions of the country (i.e., reduced snow pack, increased wildfire dangers, threats to water supplies and public health and urban electricity supply). This reinforces that, the longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost. Therefore, the faster we have to move on the transformation of our energy system. 
     We all know that, historically, spurring innovation and change in the energy sector takes time, money and (hopefully) aligned policy. Historically, the times of major change for the energy system has been roughly half a century. All this occurred in times of rapidly increasing energy demand. We are very much in a time — in this country, certainly — of flat or even declining demand in many cases. And, of course, energy efficiency and productivity is a key goal in our low-carbon future. We are seeing this play out today, for example, on the issue of distributed generation and utility interest. 
     On the other side of the coin, cost reduction — as we have seen dramatically in solar energy — is very much a part of shaping our clean energy future. 
    Since President Obama took office, solar has increased tenfold, from just about 1GW to 16GW today; we expect that will grow another 50 per cent this year. Last year solar was the second-largest energy source (behind gas) in terms of new installed capacity; we’ve seen solar electricity rise, certainly half a per cent nationally, but regionally it can be much more impressive. At the same time, we’ve seen the cost of modules decline nearly 80 per cent. 

     On the jobs front…nearly 150,000 jobs were created in the solar industry. Solar jobs in this country have increased 10 times the national average growth rate that we have seen in the past two years. More telling is some of the world’s largest companies are deploying solar on a massive scale — companies like Fedex, Apple, GM, Google, WalMart and many more.
     Innovation in business models has to go hand in hand with technology. Four years ago, the Department launched the SunShot initiative to set a goal of achieving roughly $0.06 per kWh and a levelized cost by 2020. In a very short time, we are already approaching two-thirds of the way to achieving that goal. Getting across the finish line will take more work, but when it happens it will create further scaling of solar power in the marketplace, benefitting and energy and environmental goals. This will require further innovations in grid integration, streamlined storage, access to capital, a well-trained workforce, robust domestic manufacturing and continued business model innovation. 
    Although we face considerable challenges, I have every expectation that we will meet them. 

1.     By nearly all measures, the solar energy industry has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States over the last five years, with cumulative installed solar power increasing more than tenfold since 2008. Significant decreases in both the hardware costs and non-hardware “soft” costs of a solar energy system, such as permitting, interconnection, and financing, supported this increase in deployment, and further cost reductions will create an environment for even more solar deployment.

Posted 12/12/2014 by Reg Tucker

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RE: US Department of Energy wants solar industry to "shine." Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz explains.
From when are they using AC solar power and how much MWh?. How do they filter the wave form in AC solar PV.

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