THE SUNSHOT OPPORTUNITY: Getting to Ubiquitous Solar

Friday January 30, 2015 4:00 PM

THE SUNSHOT OPPORTUNITY: Getting to Ubiquitous Solar

Speaker: Minh Le , US Department of Energy
Location: Watson 104

The SunShot Initiative is designed to establish American technological and market leadership in solar energy, diversify the nation's electricity supply, reduce the environmental impacts of electricity generation, strengthen manufacturing competitiveness in the United States, train the next generation of the solar workforce, and catalyze domestic economic growth.  As a domestic energy source, solar supports broader national priorities, including national security, economic growth, and job creation. As an economic driver, globally, the solar industry is already at about $150 Billion/yr. Enabling the U.S. to capture a greater fraction of that global market, as well as enabling that market to continue to grow, are important reasons why the SunShot Initiative was created.   

By the end of 2014, there was approximately 20 GW of solar generating capacity across the U.S., meaning that solar is quickly approaching 2% of the nation's electricity generation capacity, a vast increase from 2008 when solar generation totaled less than 0.1% of the nation's electricity capacity.   

Despite this progress, significant work remains for solar to achieve grid parity and realize its full potential throughout the country. While solar hardware costs have fallen dramatically, market barriers and grid integration challenges continue to hinder greater deployment. Similarly, as solar system costs come down, the anticipated proliferation of solar on the nation's electric grid poses tremendous technical, market and regulatory challenges of systems (grid) integration, for which paradigm-changing transformative solutions are needed to realize the SunShot vision of high penetration of solar. Non-hardware solar "soft costs"—such as permitting, financing, and customer acquisition—are becoming an increasingly larger fraction of the total cost of solar and now constitute up to 64% of the cost of a residential PV system. While technological advances are still needed to increase module and process efficiencies, drive down manufacturing costs, and enable utilities to rely on solar for baseload power, non-hardware costs are an increased priority for the SunShot Initiative in order to achieve the 2020 goal.

Series: Applied Physics Seminar Series
Contact: Tiffany Kimoto at 3330 tkimoto@caltech.edu
Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science