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NREL Helps DOE Assess Progress “On the Path to SunShot”

Series of reports examine progress toward SunShot Initiative goals, identify emerging solar energy R&D opportunities for 2020 and beyond

May 18, 2016

Analysts and researchers at the Energy Department's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) played a significant role in a suite of studies released today by DOE's SunShot Initiative that identify the progress made by the U.S. solar energy industry toward SunShot's goal of achieving cost parity with traditional energy sources by 2020.

"We're close to 70 percent of the way toward achieving the SunShot Initiative's 2020 goals," said Robert Margolis, NREL senior analyst and project manager. "These reports provide a perspective on how far we've come and how much more can be done to advance solar technologies."

Focused on the lessons learned in the first five years of the 10-year Initiative, the reports identify key research, development, and market opportunities that must be addressed in the coming years and beyond 2020 to help the United States achieve cost-competitive solar energy.

Among the conclusions from the study series, a recurring theme emerges that sustained innovation across all levels of the industry-from component and system-level improvements, to streamlining access to solar and developing new business models across sectors-will help achieve DOE's SunShot goals. In conjunction with key stakeholders, the On the Path to SunShot series findings will be used to focus researchers on key innovations and further develop solar price-reduction and deployment strategies over the next five years of the Initiative and in the decades beyond.

Launched in 2011 and modeled after President Kennedy's "moon shot" mission to put astronauts on the moon by the end of the 1960s, the SunShot Initiative was created with the goal to reduce the cost of solar energy technologies by 75 percent within a decade across the residential, commercial, and utility-scale sectors. These reports, which are a part of the On the Path to SunShot series, serve as a follow-up to the 2012 SunShot Vision Study, which analyzed the economic and environmental benefits that would result from achieving SunShot's 2020 goals.

Since the SunShot Initiative was launched, solar technologies, solar markets, and the solar industry itself have changed dramatically. Cumulative U.S. solar energy deployment has increased more than tenfold, while the cost of electricity from solar has dropped by as much as 65 percent. 

Below is a list of On the Path to SunShot research papers. All eight research papers from the On the Path to SunShot series are also available on the DOE website.

The On the Path to SunShot series was developed in collaboration with leading researchers from NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Argonne National Laboratory.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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