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DOE Continues Solar Push

by Jeff Johnson
September 12, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 37

Credit: Shutterstock
Image of a man installing large solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of a house.
Credit: Shutterstock

Two projects to spur development and deployment of solar technologies were recently announced by the Department of Energy. One program, DOE says, will provide $344 million in loan guarantees to drive a record installation of 371 MW of solar photovoltaic module systems at 124 military bases in up to 33 states. The aim is to install 160,000 rooftop solar units over five years. A California company, SolarCity, would use the loan guarantee to secure funding for the installations and would own and operate them as it does 15,000 similar systems in 12 states, making its profits by selling electricity and taking advantage of state and federal tax incentives and support programs. DOE says some 750 construction jobs would result, and it expects many of these to be filled by veterans and military family members. The second program provides $145 million in R&D funding to 69 projects run by a mix of corporations, universities, and labs. The projects would improve manufacturing, installation, and efficiency of solar technologies. The largest single funding area ($42 million) would benefit solar energy components, such as power inverters and mounting racks. Receiving the largest total grants are the National Renewable Energy Lab ($14 million), Dow Chemical ($12.8 million), and Owens Corning/Solexel ($12.9 million).


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