A new $60 million investment into the SunShot Program by the U.S. Department of Energy will extend the federal government’s commitment to bringing solar costs down.
“Over the last three years, the cost of a solar energy system has dropped by more than 70 percent,” DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz said in announcing the awards. The new investments will back more programs that reduce “soft costs like permitting, installation and interconnection” and “improve hardware performance and efficiency.”
The SunShot Program, initiated by the DOE in 2007, has leveraged $104 million in federal money to generate more than $1.7 billion in private sector investment. It has incubated the emergence of 58 U.S. startups. That is, according to the DOE, almost $18 of private sector buy-in for every dollar of taxpayer support.
The long-term SunShot vision is for the U.S. to get 14 percent of its electricity from the sun by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050.
More than $12 million of the new federal investment was awarded to support seventeen companies working to get their technologies and services across the Valley of Death that separates concept and commercialization, including:
- Applied Novel Devices, Inc. ($500,000): A design and manufacturing process that reduces the cost of high-efficiency Si solar cells
- Brittmore Group, LLC ($684,708): An automated system for pre-assembling PV modules and deploying them robotically
- Clean Power Research ($945,529): Software to cut the soft costs of interconnecting DG
- Demeter Power ($500,000): Solar leasing through property-tax-bill assessment
- EnergySage ($1,250,000: Online shopping for PV installation
- Folsom Labs ($350,000): Software for designing solar arrays
- Geostellar ($750,000): Streamlined online procurement, financing, installation, and maintenance of solar
- Infinite Invention ($500,000): A socket for simplified connection of a solar PV system to the electric meter
- kWh Analytics ($450,000): Big-data information tools for risk management of solar investment
- Renewable Power Conversion ($994,378): More durable “macro-micro” inverters
- Silicon Solar Solutions ($500,000): Improved efficiency of n-type solar cells
- Simply Civic ($400,000): Online application for permitting to jurisdictions across the country
- Sinewatts ($499,735): Miniaturization of PV power electronics
- SMASHsolar ($500,000): Easy-install PV mounting systems
- Solar Census ($735,072): Online solar array design for streamlined cost-quoting
- Sun Number ($1,000,000): A tool for more effective solar array siting
- Sunrun ($1,600,000): Online solar project automatic design, costing, simulation, proposal generation, pricing, permitting, and field change management
Another $16 million went to four efforts to advance solar cell efficiency:
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