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Solar news: April 2nd, 2021

In this week’s news-up, we discuss an initiative by the Department of Energy (DOE) to speed up solar innovations in the United States, as well as Apple’s plan to build one of the nation’s largest renewable energy storage facilities.

DOE announces goal to cut the cost of going solar by 60 percent within the next 10 years

Last week, the Department of Energy announced an ambitious goal to cut the cost of energy produced by utility scale solar installations from 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 3 cents perkWh by 2025, and 2 cents per kWh by 2030. In order to accomplish this, they plan to invest $128 million in grants to incentivize the production of more efficient solar panels with lower production costs (you can read the full breakdown of this investment here.)  Key focus areas are perovskite solar cell research and development, cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film development, concentrated solar power (CSP) advances, and funding to develop a CSP power plant.  

After the announcement, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm stated, “In many parts of the country, solar is already cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels, and with more innovation we can cut the cost again by more than half within the decade….This first burst of funding will help us add even more affordable clean energy to the grid, jobs to communities across the country, and will put us on the fast track toward President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.”

Apple Inc announces potential 240 megawatt-hour storage facility

Earlier this week, Apple revealed plans to build a 240 megawatt-hour (MWh) renewable storage project in central California. This project will complement an existing 130 megawatt (MW) solar array providing power for Apples facilities in the state. Utility scale solar projects similar to this one are not usually eligible for net metering, so investing in a large scale battery back-up will allow Apple to store any extra energy that its solar energy system produces during peak hours. Apple also announced plans to transition 110 of its manufacturing facilities worldwide to renewable energy. To accomplish this, Apple plans to build an additional 8 gigawatts (GW) clean energy projects.

These initiatives are part of Apple’s larger plan to have a fully carbon neutral– from both its supply chain and products–by 2030. So far, Apple has achieved carbon neutrality for its corporate offices in California, but is still progressing towards carbon neutrality in the other areas of its business. You can read more about Apple’s full plan to become carbon neutral here, and a recent report on their progress here.


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