Obama administration unveils US$120 million to spur solar energy development in US

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The White House has announced that US President Barack Obama’s administration is providing more than US$120 million to ramp up clean energy in 24 states across the country.

These new actions revolve around both a series of executive actions and private sector commitments designed to speed up solar integration in the US and spur new innovations within the sector.

As part of the administration’s new initiatives, the Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing the second annual round of its US$30 million Technology to Market funding opportunity to create new tools and technologies designed to reduce the cost of solar energy systems. The DOE is also offering a US$20 million Photovoltaics Research and Development funding opportunity that is expected to support up to 35 projects in order to push new PV cell and module performance.

The DOE’s SunShot programme is also allocating US$13 million in Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities funding in order to set down a national recognition and technical assistance program for local governments in order to dismiss market roadblocks and facilitate the process for consumers and businesses to go solar.

The SunShot programme is also promoting new challenges designed to push competition amongst solar technology companies in order to pave the way for new innovations. The SunShot Prize calls on these companies to reduce the  permit-to-plugin total project time by 75%.

The United States Department of Agriculture is also providing nine grants for nearly US$8 million to help lower energy costs for citizens in remote areas. These grants include over US$2 million in projects that will offer solar power for electricity, refrigeration and cooking.

The DOE’s Solar Ready Vets training program – which is designed train active duty service members for careers as solar system installers, sales representatives and system inspectors – is also expected to ramp up.

US Vice President Joe Biden is expected to discuss some of these measures on Wednesday at the Solar Power International Conference in Anaheim, California.

From the time that Obama first took office in January 2009, the number of homes with rooftop solar installations grew from 66,000 to 734,000. In 2014, the solar market gained jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy – with PV standing as 40% of all new electric generation capacity brought online in the first half of 2015. Since 2010, the cost of an average solar system has plummeted by 50%.

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