solar-concentratedDepartment of Energy (DOE) secretary Steven Chu announces $50 million in funding for solar energy grid parity demonstration program for innovative solar technologies leading to cost-competitive solar energy that helps solar reach this important milestone.

by Chris de Morsella, Green Economy Post. Follow Chris on Twitter @greeneconpost

In order to help further the drive to lower the cost of solar electricity down to the point where it achieves grid parity the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced its intent to fund up to $50 million to test and demonstrate innovative technologies that will lead to cost-competitive solar energy technologies that is able to cross this game changing milestone. Grid parity means the price level where the cost of solar power produced electricity in this case reaches the moving average price level of electricity delivered onto the grid; when solar reaches this very significant milestone market forces will begin to inexorably shift towards a greater penetration of solar into the electricity marketplace, especially as the long term prices for the diminishing global supplies of fossil energy sources begin to rise, driving up the price of fossil fuel generated electricity.

The demonstration program will be a critical link between the Department of Energy’s advanced technology development programs and full-scale commercialization efforts. The Nevada National Security Site will serve as a proving ground for cutting-edge solar technologies, such as concentrating solar thermal power and concentrating photovoltaic energy, which can be used for utility applications in the Southwestern United States where there is an abundance of solar energy.

“This funding will allow the Department to further test advanced and innovative solar energy technologies in real-world conditions, providing critical data for companies and communities looking to invest in large-scale solar projects,” said Secretary Chu. “The Solar Demonstration Zone in Nevada is part of an integrated effort to expand the solar energy industry, helping to put America on a path to a sustainable energy future and create the jobs of the 21st century economy.”

The Department expects to announce the Funding Opportunity Announcement early next year. Potential technology applications include Concentrated Solar Power systems that use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight on a heat absorbing fluid, convert it to steam, and ultimately generate electricity, as well as Concentrated Photovoltaic Power that uses lenses to concentrate sunlight to improve the efficiency of conventional photovoltaics. The demonstration projects as part of the Solar Demonstration Zone will be deployed at a large enough scale to provide useful operating and economic data for the eventual deployment of solar energy projects at utility-scale, which are typically grid-connected projects larger than 20 megawatts.

The Solar Demonstration Zone at the Nevada National Security Site will complement the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management’s 24 Solar Energy Study Areas (SESAs) on public lands across the Southwest United States by providing essential data about the commercial viability of the most advanced solar technologies.

As part of DOE and the Department of Interior’s continuing collaboration, the Departments are working together to implement this project, including conducting environmental reviews and coordinating necessary infrastructure planning for the site. Department of Energy funding for the project is dependent upon congressional appropriations. The full Notice of Intent is available by searching under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000233 at the FedConnect Web site.

For more information on the Solar Energy Technologies Program and solar funding opportunities, please visit the Solar Energy Technology Program Web site.

Learn more on the BLM’s renewable energy program Web site.

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© 2010, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Chris de Morsella (146 Articles)

After a decade performing as a lead guitarist for rock bands, Chris de Morsella decided to return to the career his uncle mentored him in as a youth....Software Engineering. Since that time he has thrown himself into his work. He has designed a compound document publishing architecture for regulatory submissions capable of handling very large multi-document FDA regulatory drug approval submissions, for Liquent, a division of Thompson Publishing. At the Associated Press, Chris worked with senior editors at facilities around the world, to develop a solution for replacing existing editorial systems with an integrated international content management solution. He lead the design effort at Microsoft for a help system for mobile devices designed to provide contextual help for users. Chris also helped to develop the web assisted installer for LifeCam2.0, the software for Microsoft’s web cam and developed late breaking features for the product He also served with the Rhapsody client team to redesign and build a major new release of Real Networks Rhapsody client product. His most recent assignment has been Working with the Outlook Mobile Time Management team for the next release of Outlook Mobile for the SmartPhone. Chris' interests are in green building and architecture, smart grid, the cloud, geo-thermal energy, solar energy, smart growth, organic farming and permaculture. Follow Chris on Twitter.