The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) SunShot Initiative is an ambitious program that aims to dramatically reduce the cost of solar energy. By the end of the decade, one of SunShot’s official goals is to cut the cost of photovoltaic (PV) systems by 75 percent, or to about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Besides making the cost of solar comparable to non-renewable sources of energy, it is hoped this will enable solar power to generate up to 18 percent of electricity in the U.S. by 2030. Read more about it here.
To accomplish these goals, the SunShot Initiative announced last month it would focus on making solar installation “as easy as plugging in an appliance.” The program says it hopes that plug-and-play technology—similar to that used in many printers, webcams, and smart phones—will be applied to PV systems. The idea is that these systems can be plugged into a “PV-ready circuit to initiate an automatic detection system that would connect your system with your local utility.” Ultimately, the goal is that plug-and-play technology will allow PV systems to be purchased, installed and begin to generate electricity all in one day, rather than today’s ideal time frame of two to four days. This streamlined process will effectively simplify and reduce the cost of installing a PV system, which currently represents more than half the price of a residential solar unit.
Through the SunShot Initiative, the DOE will fund up to $25 million over five years to aid the development of PV plug-and-play technology. An initial $5 million will be invested this year for up to two projects that will develop plug-and-play prototypes through partnerships with universities, utilities, and other entities. The DOE will request an additional $20 from congress to spend over the remaining four years. If you are interested, application instructions and deadlines can be found here.