Making Sense Of Trump’s Surprising Investment In Solar

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Publish Date:
September 14, 2017
Author(s):
  • Temple, James
Source:
MIT Technology Review
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Summary

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it will invest $62 million to advance the state of concentrated solar power, at the apparent expense of solar photovoltaics that so far have roundly bested the rival renewable technology in the marketplace (see “One of the World’s Largest Solar Facilities Is in Trouble”).

The press release trumpeted that the solar sector has already achieved the stated 2020 goal of the department’s SunShot Initiative, namely lowering the price of power from utility-scale, photovoltaic plants to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. It added that the DOE will continue research to decrease those costs, but stressed “new funding programs will focus on a broader scope of (Trump administration) priorities, which includes early-stage research to address solar energy’s critical challenges of grid reliability, resilience, and storage.”

“[Concentrated solar power] today hasn’t been able to compete with photovoltaics, but there are some promising research areas,” says Dan Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford. “Given the climate challenge, we need to put eggs in many, many zero-carbon baskets.”

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