The United States’ Department of Energy (DOE) is working to bring down solar energy costs. The program, known as the SunShot Initiative, “is a collaborative national initiative to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.” The goal is to drive down the costs of solar energy systems by roughly three-fourths with the hope that it “will drive widespread, large-scale adoption of this renewable energy technology and restore U.S. leadership in the global clean energy race.”
As part of the initiative, Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu announced last month “two opportunities that will engage innovative scientific thinkers from the nation’s top universities to drive transformational research in solar energy.” In order to spur “promising utility-scale solar energy technologies, DOE will make up to $10 million available to support the development of more efficient heat transfer fluids to reduce the cost of energy from concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. The announcement also opens the second round of SunShot Initiative postdoctoral research awards for applied research at universities, national laboratories, and other research facilities.”
Essentially CSP takes the idea that most kids already know: focus sunlight on an object (think magnifying glass on a leaf) and it generates a lot of heat. The same idea lies behind this technology. For more information, and a bit more nuanced explanation on how CSP works, the DOE has an instructional video on their website.