Solar is becoming the cheapest option for new electricity in the world, but there’s still room to improve. According to a new cost-reduction target announced today, the U.S. Department of Energy aims to cut utility-scale solar power plant costs by 60% by 2030. CleanTechnica reports: So, how does the DOE intend to help cut solar power costs so much by 2030? First of all, the U.S. DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) sees two materials used in solar cells as critical to this brighter solar future perovskites and cadmium telluride (CdTe). The department is [spending] $63 million to try to help with these solar cell innovation goals. In the DOE’s own words:
– $40 million for perovskite R&D: Perovskites are a family of emerging solar materials that have potential to make highly efficient thin-film solar cells with very low production costs. DOE is awarding $40 million to 22 projects that will advance perovskite PV device and manufacturing research and developmentâ”as well as performance through the formation of a new $14 million testing center to provide neutral, independent validation of the performance of new perovskite devices.
– $3 million Perovskite Startup Prize: This new prize competition will speed entrepreneurs’ path to commercializing perovskite technologies by providing seed capital for their newly formed companies.
– $20 million for CdTe thin films: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will set up a consortium to advance cheaper CdTe thin-film solar technologies, which were developed in the United States and make up 20% of the modules installed in this country. This consortium will advance low-cost manufacturing techniques and domestic research capabilities, increasing opportunities for U.S. workers and entrepreneurs to capture a larger portion of the $60 billion global solar manufacturing sector.
“Today’s announcement also supports several concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) projects,” the department notes. Here are details from the DOE:
- $33 million for CSP advances: The new funding opportunity also includes funding for improvements to the reliability and performance of CSP plants, which can dispatch solar energy whenever it is needed; identifies new solar applications for industrial processes, which contribute 20% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions; and advances long-duration thermal-energy storage devices. Long-duration energy storage is critical to decarbonizing the electricity sector and couples well with CSP plants, but the cost must fall by a factor of two to unlock deployment.
- $25 million to demonstrate a next-generation CSP power plant: Sandia National Laboratories will receive funding to build a facility where researchers, developers, and manufacturers can test next-generation CSP components and systems and advance toward DOE’s 2030 cost target of 5 cents/kWh for CSP plants.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.