The US Department of Energy (DOE) will set aside US$45 million to develop technology that will enable businesses to bring “large quantities of solar” onto the grid.
The DOE will allocate the funding for research in two key areas: systems integration and hardware.
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New solar capacity installations in the US are expected to rise 43% this year as the industry recovers from the worst impacts of COVID-19 and corporations invest in more renewables projects to bring down their carbon emissions, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.
However, much of the hardware for solar projects in the US is imported from markets such as Vietnam, while China leads the solar PV manufacturing market. As part of the funding programme, around US$14 million will be reserved for R&D designed to increase the amount of solar PV hardware such as panels being made in the US. Companies could receive grants of up to US$3 million for project development next year if their application is approved by the DOE.
More than half of the funding (US$25 million) will go towards the formation of a consortium to encourage “industry-wide collaboration” on developing technologies that enable both utility-scale and smaller distributed energy systems to connect to the grid. A further US$6 million will be set aside for up to three projects focusing on collecting data from behind-the-meter solar PV systems. These projects will receive grants of between US$2 million and US$3 million.
Part of the funding will also be used to create a consortium of businesses tasked with creating new tools to manage an energy grid with a greater mix of intermittent renewable energy.
Dan Brouillette, secretary of energy, said that funding research and development projects will ensure that the technologies put in place in the coming years “benefit the US economy while securely delivering reliable power to all Americans”.