Monday, February 7, 2011

DOE launches initiative to drive down costs of photovoltaics

Despite the drab, cold winter of Washington, D.C., the Department of Energy is focused on sunny warmth as Secretary Steven Chu unveiled a $27 million commitment to push down the cost of solar energy. The SunShot initiative seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive by 2020, without the aid of subsidies. The target: Solar-generated electricity must drop by about 75 percent to $1 per watt, or 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Stanford recently joined with neighboring University of California, Berkeley, and DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to form a photovoltaic consortium. The consortium has drafted a proposal to mobilize the industry around a goal to manufacture solar power at 50 cents per watt and sell that power at a dollar per kilowatt-hour. "It's an aggressive goal, an exciting goal, but it will require substantial advancements," said Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley, regarding the Sunshot initiative. More>