Washington, D.C., United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-AZ), by a vote of 310-106.
Giffords’ legislation would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to appoint a group of experts to create a long-term plan to guide solar energy research and its transition into commercial uses. The group would identify research and development that needs to occur to help improve the performance and reliability of solar technologies, decrease cost, reduce water use and mitigate any negative environmental impacts.
It would be subject to a comprehensive revision every three years to keep it current and at least one-third but not more than half of the members of the Committee must come from the solar industry.
The bill also authorizes US $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years. The money will fund at least 10 photovoltaic demonstration projects ranging from 1-3 megawatts (MW) in size and at least three but not more than five solar projects greater than 30 MW in size.
The Secretary of Energy is also directed to award this money on a merit-reviewed basis, and specifically to provide awards to industry-led groups for research in solar manufacturing. In addition, DOE must establish a program to research, develop and deploy the reuse, recycling and safe disposal of photovoltaic devices.
The bill authorizes $350 million for DOE to carry out these activities in FY 2011, rising to $550 million in FY 2015.
The roadmap provision is modeled on the National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which that industry credits with being instrumental in helping semiconductor technology advance rapidly over the past two decades.
Giffords said that the bill would require DOE to engage diverse stakeholders in the solar community and work across programs to create a comprehensive plan to guide funding for the research needed to make the U.S. the global center for solar innovation.
Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said the bill goes a long way to helping move the solar industry in the U.S. forward and called on the Senate to pass the bill in the coming weeks.
“While solar technology is available and being deployed now in all 50 states, the Solar Technology Roadmap will help continue technological innovations and breakthroughs in the solar industry, driving down costs even further,” Resch said. “We especially want to applaud Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Congresswoman Giffords has been one of the solar industry’s strongest advocates in Congress since her arrival in 2007 and her leadership on the Solar Technology Roadmap is the latest of many efforts to help create a sound policy environment for the solar industry