The DOE SunShot Initiative is a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. SunShot aims to make solar energy a low cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners.
The SunShot Initiative funds programs that reduce the cost of solar across residential, commercial and utility-scale photovoltaics (PV) as well as concentrating solar power.
SUNSHOT 2020 GOALS
In 2011, the SunShot Initiative was launched and set a goal to lower the levelized cost of solar electricity in order achieve cost parity with conventional electricity sources by 2020. Those goals are:
- $0.09 per kilowatt hour for residential solar
- $0.07 per kilowatt hour for commercial solar
- $0.06 per kilowatt hour for utility-scale solar
The goals and the impacts on the industry were discussed in depth in the SunShot Vision Study, which utilized models developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to analyze and predict solar market growth.
As of November 2016--five years into the program--the solar industry is already more than 90% of its way toward achieving SunShot’s utility-scale goal and has also seen significant cost reductions in residential and commercial solar.
Learn more about progress to the 2020 goals to date and opportunities ahead in the On the Path to SunShot report series.
SUNSHOT 2030 GOALS
As the solar industry made rapid progress toward the 2020 targets, SunShot doubled down and committed to a further goal: to cut the cost of solar electricity an additional 50% between 2020 and 2030. These goals are:
- $0.05 per kilowatt hour for residential PV
- $0.04 per kilowatt hour for commercial PV
- $0.03 per kilowatt hour for utility-scale PV
These goals are discussed in depth in the SunShot Initiative 2030 Goals Paper.
Beyond these cost targets, SunShot is working to advance grid-integration approaches in order to enable two-way power flow, increase demand response, and optimize electric vehicle charging. Such advances in combination with low-cost battery storage could enable economically competitive solar to be widely deployed across the country while also facilitating greater integration of other renewable power sources.
SunShot is also addressing market barriers that limit solar adoption, including streamlining processes to reduce project time cycles, expanding access to solar, and accurately representing solar’s value in a more integrated energy system.
ARE THESE GOALS ACHIEVABLE?
There are multiple realistic pathways toward achieving the 2030 goals. The chart above shows one potential route, which relies on significant improvements in module price and efficiency, system reliability, operations and maintenance costs, non-module hardware and labor costs, and financing rates. However, the interdependencies and tradeoffs among cost- and performance-improvement factors create numerous options. Among all the possibilities, one common theme emerges—the need for sustained, multifaceted innovation. View more pathways.
CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER (CSP)
SunShot also set targets for concentrating solar power deployment by 2020. This goal is to lower the cost of CSP to $0.06 per kWh. On average, the price for a CSP project has dropped by about $0.09 cents per kilowatt hour, from $0.21 in 2010 to $0.12 in 2015.
The cost targets set by SunShot are measured in “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE), which determines the cost for electricity produced by solar energy systems. LCOE is based upon the sum of the upfront installation price and the present value of the lifetime operational expenses ($) divided by the net present value of the power produced (kilowatt hours or kWh). The assumptions that underlie the 2010 and 2016 LCOE estimates for PV, and the associated SunShot targets, are based upon systems installed in an average solar resource location for the United States (as represented by Kansas City, Missouri), and do not include the federal investment tax credit (ITC) or state or local incentives. The model results shown are in terms of 2016 cents per kWh.
The LCOE benchmarks and targets are derived from models developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The details related to installation price are published in NREL's Annual U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark report. The additional details and models needed for the full LCOE calculations have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Photovoltaics, and as part of the On the Path to SunShot series.