Concentrated and Community Solar Power to Receive More Funding
More funding is helping you install your own unit! Photo Credit: Wayne National Forest
The Department of Energy posted three new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for solar power, totaling nearly $40 million in new funds over the next year. Most of the funding is geared toward the study and development of new, more cost-effective concentrated solar power (CSP) projects.
The funding is intended primarily to achieve two related goals: One, to research and test new concepts that would reduce the cost of CSP and help achieve base load generation. The second round involves a more holistic approach, geared toward proposals for complete CSP systems that should “meet baseload criteria.”
The third FOA revolves around community solar power. Just over $20 million is available for municipalities that have a solid plan for advancing solar power in their community. The funding is intended for cities who already have a renewable energy plan in place, but need financial assistance to get it off the ground or keep it running.
Does this Funding Help Solar Power?
Given recent trends in the industry, this funding could help considerably. As far as concentrated solar power goes, large plants are facing huge opposition from environmental groups, opposition which tended to be upheld in court, due to land use, habitat destruction, and water usage. New concepts for CSP should include proposals for mitigating these issues. If DOE funding is directed toward organizations that focus on further “greening” utility-scale solar power, then the money could mean a lot for large-scale solar deployment. Nothing could be so important with hundreds of CSP solar projects awaiting local or federal approval.
In terms of community solar power, the funding could make a huge difference. According to its statement, the DOE expects to hand out one to four awards in this category. This means that roughly $5-20 million would go to a single city for advancement of its renewable energy goals. That is no small sum and would have a profound effect on any municipality. I would expect a large turnout of applications.
For solar power to become as widespread as so many of us would like, it’ll have to become a staple in our communities. Ideally, solar panels will be so commonplace that we’ll hardly notice them as we walk down the street, just as we hardly notice the power lines running above our heads.
Concentrated solar projects must apply by October 15, 2009. Communities must apply for funding by September 14, 2009.
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