In the history of our country, our government has repeatedly been willing to invest and take risk in unproven technologies that have radically transformed our country. Technologies from GPS, radar, internet, and many others all started in the labs of government buildings and soon were used by the general public. The Department of Energy (DoE) has continued that tradition in supporting renewable energy, especially for solar technology.
The DoE’s most famous solar program, the SunShot Initiative, has the goal of reducing the cost of solar by 75 percent. Since 2007, more than 50 start-ups have participated in the SunShot Incubator Program. Over $1.7 billion has been invested by the private sector, which has translated $18 for every $1 of government support. Mosaic was honored to be a part of this program and received $2M in 2012.
Another part of the SunShot Initiative is aimed at helping solar include giving grants to Delaware State University and the University of Texas San Antonio to encourage minorities to enter and succeed in the solar industry. They also are helping train the solar workforce with the help of several partner universities in their Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) program. Lastly, in a collaborative effort amongst the DoE, Arizona State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the institutions are working together in the SunShot Foundational Program to drive efficiency of ultra-thin crystalline silicon cells past 26.5 percent.
Another program to encourage solar residential use, and green building technologies, is the solar decathlon. In the decathlon, teams compete in designing, building and operating solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. This past year, the winner was Team Austria from Vienna University of Technology, supported by the Davis Energy Group, which beat out 19 other competitors. Their house design generates more power than it uses and adapts to different environments and climates. The solar decathlon has been an exciting place for students and innovators to imagine the sustainable homes of the future.
The “Rooftop Solar Challenge,” is a new project designed to reduce the administrative barriers surrounding solar installation. Like the solar decathlon, it’s a competition for proposals to reduce soft costs, that can account for as much as 60 percent of total panel installation. Eight teams in 25 states will participate in the program and receive about $12 million – with over $4 million in external funding. Their goal will be to streamline and standardize solar zoning, permitting, metering, and connection processes for communities across the country to help reduce the soft cost associated with solar.
The Department of Energy is doing great work in supporting the solar industry and Mosaic is honored to be a part of their effort in making America the leader in solar energy.
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Yoni is a Fellow at Mosaic working on their PR, marketing, and community engagement. He graduated from Rollins College in three years in Political Science and International Business. He then spent three months volunteering in rural India where he met his fiancée. After attending Boston University’s Graduate Program in Energy and Environmental Analysis, he worked at a web startup for a year in Cambridge. He then left to start Climate Scores, a website dedicated in grading Congressmen on how they stood on climate change. He then worked at Ashoka as their lead strategist on targeting Gen Y donors. In his free time, he likes to read science fiction, play quality video games, and run.