Feds Offer $25 Million in Grants for Solar Energy Projects; Solar Has Increased ‘23-Fold’ Under Obama

By Penny Starr | May 3, 2016 | 12:30 PM EDT

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Energy announced on Monday that $25 million in grant funding is available for solar power projects through the “Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) effort.

The money will be awarded to software developers, solar companies and utilities to “accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.”

“Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation,” the announcement said.

DOE acknowledged the challenge of “balancing” solar with “traditional utility generation,” but said this funding “will help support companies working to meet that challenge,” although the way in which this will be done is not explained.

“Our ongoing grid modernization work will help accelerate the widespread adoption of the clean energy resources that will define our low-carbon future,” Lynn Orr, Energy Department under secretary for science and energy, said in a statement. “This funding will help that mission by supporting industry partners working to integrate, store, and deploy solar energy throughout our electric grid.

“In doing so, we hope to drive down costs and encourage even more American homeowners and businesses to install solar systems,” Orr said.

The funding announcement is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to promote solar energy while at the same time putting more regulations in place for other traditional energy resources, despite the federal Energy Information Administration statistics that show only 10 percent of energy was generated by renewable sources like solar in the U.S. in 2014, while petroleum (35 percent), natural gas (28 percent) and coal (18 percent) supply the most energy in the United States.

“The SunShot Initiative, which is managed by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), will oversee the projects associated with this funding opportunity,” the announcement said, noting that SunShot is a collaborative national effort launched in 2011 that “aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy cost competitive – without subsidies – with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade.”

The funding description stated that SunShot “expects to make between 10 and 15 awards ranging between $500,000 and $4,000,000” for near-term projects and “between $500,000 and $2,000,000” for long–term challenge projects.

The Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), announced in March 2015, represents “a comprehensive effort to help shape the future of our nation’s grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage and smart buildings, while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cybersecurity and climate challenges.”

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