Energy Secretary Steven Chu says, “The price of solar panels has fallen dramatically in recent years, but we also need to reduce the cost and time required to actually install them in homes and businesses, and help utility companies better integrate renewable energy into the grid. Projects like these can help reduce the cost of solar power and make it easier for American families and businesses to access clean, affordable energy.”
The Energy Department has also announced a $21 million investment over five years to design plug-and-play photovoltaic (PV) systems that can be purchased, installed, and operational in one day. Plug-and-play PV systems will make buying, installing, and connecting solar energy systems easier and less expensive for homeowners.
Fraunhofer USA’s Center for Sustainable Energy Systems will develop PV technologies that enable homeowners to select the right solar system for their house and connect to the grid. Additionally, North Carolina State University is leading a project to create standard PV components and system designs that can adapt to any residential roof.
The Energy Department is also providing an $8 million investment in two projects to help utilities and grid operators better forecast when, where, and how much solar power will be produced at United States solar energy plants, which will help power system operators to integrate cost-competitive, reliable solar energy into the electricity grid.
The IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Armonk, New York, will lead a project based on the Watson computer system to integrate different prediction models and learning technologies. These projects, working in conjunction with the Energy Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, are meant to improve the accuracy of solar forecasts.
The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.