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The cost of solar electricity in the United States should fall by 60% by 2030
New US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm (Jennifer M. Granholm said that in many parts of the country, solar power is already cheaper than electricity from coal and other fossil fuels. But that’s not a reason to stop. The ministry has set a goal to reduce the cost of solar electricity by another 60% by 2030. This means that a solar kilowatt will have to cost 2 cents (1.5 rubles at the current exchange rate).
Image source: Department of Energy / Quentin Kruger
To solve this problem, serious research work is to be carried out, for which the Ministry of Energy is already ready to distribute grants totaling $ 128 million. Both national laboratories and companies and startups will receive money for projects.
Today, a solar kilowatt in the US costs 4.6 cents. By 2025, its cost should be reduced to 3 cents and will drop to 2 cents in another five years. Solar generation is projected to account for 30% to 50% of total U.S. electricity generation by 2035.
To reduce the cost of solar electricity, it is necessary to increase the efficiency of the panels and extend their service life. It is also necessary to develop technologies to use less expensive materials. The Ministry sees the basis for future efficient solar energy in the United States in perovskites and cadmium telluride (CdTe) films. Only for R&D on perovskites will be allocated $ 40 million of the planned funding.
Our news has repeatedly reported on good prospects for perovskites for solar energy. They can be used both in tandem with conventional silicon photocells — these are the so-called tandem cells, or independently. The funds allocated for the study of perovskites will be distributed over 22 projects that will cover all aspects from production to operation. In particular, it is planned to develop a prototype of tandem perovskite PV modules with sides 1 × 2 m.
$ 20 million allocated for the development of solar panels based on cadmium telluride. Most of this money will go to the national laboratories of the Department of Energy, such as NREL and Sandia. Under the auspices of NREL, a consortium will be created to promote low-cost electricity production technologies using film panels to the global market, which the United States wants to return to itself, and from which they were kicked out by the Chinese many years ago.
Another interesting task to be solved by national laboratories will be the extension of the service life of solar panels from 30 years to 50. The reliability and durability of related equipment — connectors, inverters, cables and other things will also be increased.
A solar-fuel tower power plant located in the state of California. Image Source: BrightSource Energy
Finally, $ 33 million is dedicated to the development of thermal solar energy (CSP) or solar concentrator projects. An important feature of CSP plants is that they can store energy from the sun, for example, in hot water and generate electricity on demand even in the dark. Also, solar concentrators can be adapted for industrial production, where the highest heating is required in technological processes, which will become an alternative to burning fossil fuels. The ministry has set a target to reduce the cost of CSP electricity to 5 cents by 2030. The plans are huge, but will they be implemented?