Last week, hundreds of solar energy leaders gathered in southern California to participate in SunShot’s biennial Grand Challenge Summit. Industry leaders, researchers, and policymakers worked together over four days to generate ideas to tackle the SunShot grand challenge to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional forms of energy by 2020.
Here are just a few highlights from the Summit’s all-star keynote speakers:
- Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim, California welcomed guests to the SunShot Summit and congratulated the industry on its progress to deploy more affordable solar energy nationwide.
- Dr. Ramamoorthy Ramesh, deputy director for science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and former SunShot Initiative director, stressed how individual contributions of SunShot partners in industry and the research community are getting us closer to the SunShot goal.
- Billy Parish of Mosaic, named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company magazine, called on industry to work with citizens to move the solar market forward from the grassroots level.
- Dr. Cheryl Martin, ARPA-E director, inspired Summit attendees to think boldly and differently, to become the innovators who bring technologies to reality that will transform our energy future.
- Dr. Dan Arvizu, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory highlighted that solar is rapidly becoming a leading source of energy for the world.
- Ali Zaidi of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said that the Apollo program, or the so-called Moon Shot, was a race away from our planet, but that SunShot is a race to save our planet.
- Cristin Dorgelo of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy noted the new SunShot Catalyst prize program invests in people and targets audacious and achievable goals that will create the jobs and products of the future.
Attendees chose between 16 breakout sessions, jam-packed with engaging content and robust discussion. The Summit’s Technology Forum, featuring over 300 displays of SunShot-funded projects, showcased how companies are solving some of the toughest problems in solar energy through hardware and software technology innovation.
During the Summit, the Energy Department (DOE) made two announcements to drive down the price of solar:
This is a new open innovation program with more than $500,000 in available prizes across a series of four “contests” to help launch cutting-edge data and software startups that leverage tools already established by the DOE national laboratories.
DOE’s SunShot Initiative announced $10 million for six new research and development projects that will advance innovative concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. The projects will develop thermochemical energy storage systems to enable more efficient storage of solar energy, cutting the cost for utility-scale CSP electricity generation as a result.
Although the solar industry has already blazed past the 60% mark toward SunShot’s goal, achieving the final 40% will require even more innovation, new ideas, and hard work. SunShot will continue to work with the entire solar community to unleash the potential for a world powered by solar energy.