Obama Unveils US1$ Billion Plan to Catapult US Renewables

US President Barack Obama has announced more than US$1 billion of initiatives including loan guarantees to drive innovation and accelerate the US clean energy economy in an ambitious goal to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

As part of the Clean Power Plan, the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office is making up to US$1 billion in loan guarantees available to support commercial-scale distributed energy projects, such as rooftop solar with storage and smart grid technology. In addition, through the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, the DOE is awarding US$24 million in funding for 11 high-performance solar power projects that could lower the cost and improve the performance of solar photovoltaic power systems.

“The announcements made today will help spur innovative clean energy technologies that will be central to the president’s Clean Power Plan and combat climate change,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “The Clean Power Plan is a tremendous opportunity for American businesses to be global leaders in solar and distributed energy technologies. This will help shepherd in a new era of clean energy jobs and a low-carbon economy that will deliver affordable and reliable power to America’s homes and businesses.”

Distributed energy technologies, such as rooftop solar, energy storage, smart grid technology, and methane capture for oil and gas wells, solve key energy challenges, create economic opportunity, strengthen energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Unfortunately, these distributed technologies may be limited by market barriers since commercial lenders are often unwilling or unable to take on the risk of a new or innovative technology until it has a solid history of credit performance and commercial operation,” the DOE said.

The LPO’s announcement will help overcome market barriers and accelerate deployment of innovative distributed energy technologies by making US$1 billion of loan guarantee authority available through the existing program and providing guidance on the types of financial structures it can support for distributed energy projects.

ARPA-E’s Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration program will award the US$24 million to 11 teams across the country to develop new solar technologies that will create highly efficient photovoltaic panels that capture more sunlight using less area.

“For example, many roofs are not well suited for conventional solar panels due to their size and/or location, making them inefficient and costly for some residents, businesses and utilities,” the DOE said. “However, using Concentrated Solar Power optical devices that concentrate sunlight onto a smaller, high efficiency solar PV receiver can reduce the footprint of conventional solar panels, while maintaining their ability to generate electricity.

“Current CPV technologies are location dependent, and require expensive materials to integrate into existing solar systems. MOSAIC seeks to overcome these challenges and develop small CPV systems (known as micro-scale CPV technology) that integrate more affordable materials and manufacturing techniques into PV solar panels that can be adopted in more locations.”

MOSAIC has selected projects in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Washington and New York to developed solar modules that integrate high-performance micro-scale concentrated PV technologies into “flat plate” solar panels to improve the efficiency and cost of solar technologies.

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