The SunShot Initiative is a program conceived by the US Department of Energy in 2011 with the goal of reducing the cost of grid scale solar power to under $1.00 per watt by the year 2020. When the program began, the cost of installed solar was over $4.00 per watt. Solar power was responsible for only one tenth of one percent of America’s total electrical resources at 1.2 gigawatts.
5 years later, there are more than 30 gigawatts of installed solar power. That’s still only about 1% of the national supply, but it represents exponential growth since 2011. Now the Energy Department says the $1.00 per watt goal — which is equivalent to 6 cents per kilowatt hour — has been reached three years ahead of schedule. The SunShot Initiative had four main targets:
- Improve the efficiency of solar cells
- Optimize electronics that would improve solar systems’ performance
- Boost the efficiency of solar manufacturing processes
- Streamline the installation, design and permitting processes nationwide
The program included grants and loan guarantees to provide incentives to manufacturers and suppliers. Together, they were largely responsible for convincing lenders and investors to put private resources to work to make solar power happen. As a result, a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund claims that jobs in renewable energy are growing 12 times faster than the US economy as a whole. There are now about 4 million Americans working in cleantech positions says the EDF.
The Energy Department has now established a new goal for the SunShot Initiative. It wants to halve the cost of installed solar to a little as 3 cents per kilowatt hour by 2020. It says the soft costs of design and permitting are the areas where significant potential cost reductions can be realized.
All this sounds pretty good until you learn that the Trump Administration has ordered a complete halt to any and all news about renewable energy from the Energy Department. It is likely the SunShot Initiative and all other clean energy programs will be terminated by America’s Buffoon in Chief so he can address his desire to reinvigorate the coal industry. That approach is beyond idiotic. Instead of clean, renewable energy, the alleged president wants to go back 100 years to a time when smokestacks belched clouds of poisonous gasses into the atmosphere. That may make America a smog-bound cesspool, but it most definitely will not make it great again.
“Trump’s current approach is basically ignoring an entire industry that has grown up over the last 10 years or so and is quite robust,” Liz Delaney, the program director at EDF Climate Corps, tells Business Insider.
In the final analysis, Trump’s pigheadedness may be irrelevant. The cost of solar is now competitive with other energy sources with or without incentives. Business will simply go with the least expensive alternative, regardless what the pompous ass in the White House wants. While The Donald is busy tweeting about how many people attended his inauguration, America’s transition to clean, renewable power will continue to gather strength and lead the country to a forward to a fossil fuel free future.
Source: Triple Pundit Image credit: U.S. Navy/Flickr