The DOE‘s Sunshot Vision Study provides an in-depth assessment of the potential for solar technologies to share a significant portion of electricity demand in the United States in the coming decades.
Using NREL‘s Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) and Solar Deployment System (SolarDS) models, the SunShot Vision Study provides least-cost geographical deployment of solar technologies, among other technologies.
The study is meant to be the most comprehensive review of the potential for U.S. solar electricity generation to date. The study was initiated by the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Program (SETP) and managed by NREL.
Of the findings in the study, the cost of solar plays the most important role. Price is one of the main barriers to a widespread adoption of solar energy technologies. The SunShot Vision study explores a scenario in which the price of solar reduces by 75% from 2010 to 2020. Lowering the cost would give solar energy technologies a competitive advantage, an advantage that the SunShot Vision Study says would mean 14% of our power would come from solar in 2030, 27% by 2050.
Here are some other key findings in the study:
Achieving the SunShot price targets is projected to result in the cumulative installation of approximately 302 gigawatts (GW) of PV and 28 GW of CSP by 2030, and 632 GW of PV and 83 GW of CSP by 2050.
Annual U.S. electricity-sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to be significantly lower in the SunShot scenario than in the reference scenario: 8%, or 181 million metric tons (MMT), lower in 2030, and 28%, or 760 MMT, lower in 2050.
Both the SunShot and reference scenarios require significant transmission expansion. In the reference scenario, transmission is expanded primarily to meet growing electricity demand by developing new conventional and wind resources. In the SunShot scenario, transmission is expanded at a similar level, but in different locations in order to develop solar resources.
The level of solar deployment envisioned in the SunShot scenario poses significant but not insurmountable technical challenges with respect to grid integration and could require substantial changes to system planning and operation practices.
Financing the scale of expansion in the SunShot scenario will require significant new investments in the solar manufacturing supply chain and in solar energy projects.
Achieving the SunShot scenario level of solar deployment would result in significant downward pressure on retail electricity prices.
Achieving the SunShot scenario level of solar deployment could support 290,000 new solar jobs by 2030, and 390,000 new solar jobs by 2050.
The Full SunShot Vision Study is available by clicking here