• Average price for utility scale solar PV in the US comes down to $0.06 per kWh under the SunShot Initiative
  • It has achieved its target 3 years ahead of the planned 2020 timeline
  • Residential and commercial PV segments are currently at 86% and 89% towards achieving their 2020 electricity price targets
  • Apart from driving down cost, DOE will now also focus on new funding programs to broaden scope of administration priorities including early-stage research to address grid reliability, resilience and storage

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has achieved the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set under its SunShot Initiative. The average price of utility-scale solar is now $0.06 per kWh, driven down primarily by cost decline in solar PV hardware.

In November 2016, the department had shared that the SunShot Initiative had achieved 90% of its goals ahead of the 2020 deadline (see SunShot Progress). Back then, the cost of utility-scale PV was stated to be $0.07 per kWh, while the final target was $0.06 per kWh. It has now achieved this goal.

For 2030, it is aiming to bring it further down to $0.03 per kWh for utility-scale PV, $0.04 per kWh for commercial PV and $0.05 per kWh for residential PV, sans subsidies.

In a new study released recently by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), DOE says it is now already looking beyond SunShot’s 2020 goals to an expanded 2030 vision for the Solar Energy Technologies Office. Apart from the focus on driving down cost, new funding programs will aim to broaden scope of administration priorities. It will encompass early-stage research to address grid reliability, resilience and storage.

With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges,” said Daniel Simmons, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “As we look to the future, DOE will focus new solar R&D on the Secretary’s priorities, which include strengthening the reliability and resilience of the electric grid while integrating solar energy.”

In a report titled ‘US Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2017’, NREL points out that while utility-scale PV systems have achieved their 2020 SunShot target 3 years early, residential and commercial PV systems are 86% and 89% towards achieving their 2020 electricity price targets. The report can be downloaded free of cost on NREL website.

Simmons also announced up to $82 million in early-stage research in concentrating solar power (CSP) and power electronics in the form of cooperative agreements, and not grants.

Installed solar power capacity has grown from 1.1 GW in 2007 in the US to an estimated 47.1 GW in 2017. Today, it accounts for around 1.5% of US electricity.