Even with a 60% drop in the price of solar panels since 2011, the deployment of solar energy nationally has needed a boost to compete with heavily subsidized fossil fuels. The federal government is one of the sectors that has pushed for a solar America and is poised to meet the goals set forth by the current administration. President Obama intends to push the deployment of renewable energy throughout the country..
Showing his support for clean energy, President Obama held the Solar Summit at the White House to honor the leadership and progress we have made, and to ask for future public and private partnerships for clean energy development. Following the White House’s Solar Summit, it looks as though the Obama Administration is continuing to see the need and benefit of large scale deployment of clean energy, especially solar.
“As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, solar energy is helping families and businesses throughout the U.S. access affordable, clean renewable power…” -Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy
With so much great solar news coming from the summit, lets look at a couple programs that will help the development and deployment of local, regional, state, and federal solar energy.
1) Solar Market Pathways
Through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the new Solar Market Pathways program is a $15 Million federal funding opportunity to assist in the deployment of multi-year solar development measures for businesses and communities. This new funding opportunity, a part of the already well-known SunShot Initiative, will support local, state, tribal, and regional strategies for advancing a solar America.
The $15 Million opportunity will be awarded to communities with funds ranging from $100,000 to $4 Million.
The chance for your community to join the Solar Market Pathways program is happening right now. To find out more about this funding opportunity, check out the Department of Energy’s Solar Market Pathways opportunity announcement.
2) The Capital Solar Challenge
As the hub of our Nation’s federal workforce, and with a population of over 5.8 Million people, the Washington metropolitan area that surrounds our Nation’s capital has immense opportunity to become a leader in solar generation.
Just announced on April 17, the White House has launched a new creative partnership that will help stir up the engagement of federal agencies, military installations, and federally subsidized housing projects in deploying solar for their institutions. This is how the federal government is hoping to lead America into the future through strides in solar development.
With the Help of the DOE and the General Services Administration (GSA), federal complexes across the Washington metropolitan area will work to identify locations and opportunities for a massive deployment of solar projects in America. A current goal that the White House already has in place includes the deployment of 100 MW of solar on federally subsidized housing complexes across the region. With the use of power purchase agreements and other innovative clean energy finance models, the Capital Solar Challenge will help meet these current goals and build upon them to make the Washington metropolitan area a national hotspot and leader of solar development.
3) Solar and the Military
In 2012, the Department of Defense accounted for a whopping 1% of all U.S. consumed energy and 80% of all federal government consumed energy, making it the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. In the face of the enormous amount of energy consumed by this agency, the Department of Defense and their constituents are making massive strides to increases the development of solar into their military installations.
With a current goal of 3 GW of renewable energy installed on military installations by 2025, the U.S. military is building partnerships with new members of the federal and private sectors, as well as utility providers, to meet their goal. The newest solar project undertaken by the Department of Defense, which began on April 25, is an 18 MW solar system at Fort Huachuca in Southern Arizona.
Mosaic is no stranger in bringing more solar energy to military installations. In the summer of 2013, Mosaic worked with Fort Dix Joint Military Base to help make over 12,000 kW of solar installations on military housing a reality. With over 55,000 PV solar panels, this project provides about 30% of the houses on base with clean electricity.
Check out more solar projects which are being deployed by the Department of Defense.
Anything else is the White House is doing to create a solar America?
The expansion of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership to challenge businesses, schools, and government agencies to increase the amount of on-site renewable energy these groups generate.
The new partnership between the Departments of Agriculture and Energy, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, to increase the development mechanisms that can boost distributed solar projects on rural lands.
John Steller is a recent Master’s graduate in Climate Science and Solutions from Northern Arizona University. During his time at NAU, John worked on climate change communication and greenhouse gas inventory projects for the University and Flagstaff community. Prior to his graduate education, he received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Geology from Murray State University. John enjoys trivia nights, baseball, and his never ending pursuit for the world’s best orange cream milkshake.