Washington, DC [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced $170 million over three years (from FY ’07-’09) for cost-shared, public-private partnerships to advance solar energy technology. It is part of President Bush’s Solar America Initiative (SAI), which aims to bring down the cost of solar energy systems to make them competitive with conventional electricity sources in the U.S. by 2015.The goal of the projects funded by the solicitation is to reduce photovoltaic (PV) costs from 13-22 cents/kWh today, to 9-18 cents/kWh by 2010, on track with the SAI goals. “This investment is a major step in our mission to bring more clean, renewable solar power to the nation,” Secretary Bodman said. “If we are able to harness more of the sun’s power and use it to provide energy to homes and businesses, we can increase our energy diversity and strengthen our nation’s energy security. I am hopeful that this funding will help reinvigorate innovation in photovoltaic technology that will lead to an expansion in the use of solar energy in this country and the world.” The $170 million SAI Photovoltaic Systems R&D Technology Pathway Partnerships (TPP) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will focus on development, testing, demonstration, validation, and deployment of new PV components, systems and manufacturing equipment. TPPs will be industry-led and may include one or more companies, universities, national laboratories, and/or non-governmental organizations. Because DOE is requiring that the industry-led teams match their awards dollar for dollar, a total investment of $340 million will be realized when the private cost share is included. The prime recipient of DOE awards under this FOA must be a U.S. commercial entity with current or planned U.S. manufacturing capacity. An applicant may be a prime recipient on one award, and may also participate as a sub-recipient partner on multiple awards. In his recent State of the Union address, President Bush announced the Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI), which seeks to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. The AEI includes a 22-percent increase in funding for clean energy technology research at DOE. As part of the AEI, the President’s FY 2007 budget requests $148 million for the Solar America Initiative, a $65 million, 78% increase from FY 2006, to accelerate the development of semiconductor materials that convert sunlight directly to electricity. The $170 million solicitation, subject to Congressional appropriations, will fund projects in larger Systems Class Projects, and in Subsystems Class Projects.