SunShot Initiative

The SunShot Initiative is a federal government program run by the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office. It bills itself as a national effort to support solar energy. The initiative is a collaboration of private companies, universities, state and local governments, and nonprofits, as well as national laboratories. [1]

The federal government invested $ 282 million in FY 2015 to fund the SunShot Initiative. [2] According to the SunShot Q4 2016 / Q1 2017 Solar Industry Update report, The United States installed 14.8 GW of PV in 2016, an increase of 97% from 2015, representing approximately $ 30 billion in invested capital, along with another $ 2.2 billion in US-manufactured PV products. [3]

By 2016, the program achieved 90% of the progress toward the 2020 goal. [4] In September 2017, it was announced that it was already reaching its 2020 goal, and was now refocusing on grid reliability issues. [5]

Goals and mission

When the program was first launched in 2011 it was a series of goals and cost targets: [1]

  • $ 0.09 per kilowatt hour for residential photovoltaics (PV)
  • $ 0.07 per kilowatt hour for commercial PV
  • $ 0.06 per hour kilowatt hour for utility-scale PV

In 2016, the SunShot Initiative announced that it will be achieved by the year 2030: [1]

  • $ 0.05 per kilowatt hour for residential PV
  • $ 0.04 per kilowatt hour for commercial PV
  • $ 0.03 per hour kilowatt hour for utility-scale PV

According to the program, “These cost targets inform the decisions SunShot makes to the country’s solar market and drive deployment of solar energy.” [1]


The SunShot Initiative is divided into five subprograms: [1]

  • Photovoltaics – supports the early-stage research and development of photovoltaic (PV) technologies that improve efficiency and reliability, lower manufacturing costs, and drive down the cost of solar electricity.
  • Concentrating Solar Power – supports the development of CSP technologies that will lower cost, increase efficiency, and improve reliability compared to current state-of-the-art technologies.
  • Systems Integration – seeks to enable the widespread deployment of secure, reliable, and efficient solar energy on the nation’s electricity grid by addressing the technical and organizational challenges.
  • Soft Costs – addresses challenges associated with non-hardware costs of solar energy and remove market barriers to the adoption of solar energy technologies.
  • Technology to Market – this subprogram investigates and validates groundbreaking, early-stage technology, software, and business models to strengthen early-stage concepts and move them to readiness for private sector and scale-up to commercialization.

All subprograms issue competitive awards to universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, solar companies, and state and local governments to fund research and development projects that will help in lowering the cost of electricity generated from solar technology. [6]

Below is a spending breakdown of the 2015 Soft Costs program for fiscal year: [2]

  • $ 5.8 million – Solar research at National Laboratories
  • $ 17.4 Million – Funding Pilot Programs for Solar Incentives / Subsidies
  • $ 8 Million – Education training
  • $ 6 Million – Solar panel study deployment on federal lands
  • $ 5 Million – Studies on streamlining solar data to “increase access to financing”
  • $ 2 Million – How to help solar schools


  1. ^ Jump up to:e “Sunshot Goals Initiative | Department of Energy” . . Retrieved 2017-02-14 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b FY 2015 Congressional Budget Request, US Department of Energy.
  3. Jump up^ “Q4 2016 / Q1 2017 Presentation – Solar Industry Update | Department of Energy” . . Retrieved 2017-08-21 .
  4. Jump up^ “SunShot Initiative Goals | Department of Energy” . . Retrieved 2017-08-21 .
  5. Jump up^ Geuss, Megan (13 September 2017). Arstechnica . Missing or empty( help ) |title=
  6. Jump up^ “About the SunShot Initiative | Department of Energy” . . Retrieved 2017-08-21 .

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