The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a slate of new efforts, including $15.5 million in new funding, to support solar energy deployment in underserved communities and build a diverse, skilled workforce. These initiatives will help families and businesses that have been left behind in the clean energy transition to reap the benefits of cheaper power and access to highly-skilled jobs. Together, these efforts reflect the Biden Administration’s commitment to launching every American worker and community into a greener future.
“Solar energy is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest paths to President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035—and now, it’s time to double down on our efforts to make those benefits available to communities in every pocket of the country,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, in the release.
There are nearly 100 gigawatts DC (GW) of solar capacity currently installed across the country, and as much as 500 to 600 GW will be installed over the next 10 years. While DOE has continued to accelerate solar deployment by setting and meeting ambitious cost goals, the “soft costs” associated with non-hardware challenges—like design, siting, permitting, installation, and financing—ultimately contribute to its overall cost to consumers. Increasing equitable access to solar includes driving down these costs, as well as developing business models like community solar that are designed to engage low- and moderate-income households.
DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) will leverage existing technical assistance, community solar, and workforce development programs to tackle these challenges, as well as seek input from a diversity of stakeholders on solutions that address the needs of underserved communities.
For more information on this solar initiative, read the original release from the DOE.