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Jan. 4, 2013: DOE Announces $29 Million Investment in Solar Energy Projects

WASHINGTON — As part its SunShot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced a $29 million investment in four solar energy projects. These projects are aimed at improving grid connection and reducing installation costs through plug-and-play technologies and reliable solar power forecasts.

“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,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “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.”

DOE said it will invest $21 million over five years to design plug-and-play photovoltaic (PV) systems that can be purchased, installed, and operational in one day. This effort is part of its broader initiative to bring down “soft” or non-module hardware costs, which now account for a majority of the total costs of residential systems.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Fraunhofer USA’s Center for Sustainable Energy Systems will develop PV technologies that allow homeowners to more easily select the right solar system for their house and install, wire, and connect to the grid. In addition, North Carolina State University will lead a project to create standard PV components and system designs that can adapt simply to any residential roof and can be installed and connected to the grid more quickly and efficiently.

The DOE also said it will invest $8 million in two additional projects to help utilities and grid operators better forecast when, where, and how much solar power will be produced at U.S. solar energy plants. These enhanced solar forecasting technologies will help power system operators to integrate more cost-competitive solar energy into the electric grid.

Publication date: 12/31/2012

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