Solar energy effort gets boost from big data

Tools

With a goal of cutting the cost of solar energy production by 75 percent over the next seven years, the Department of Energy has announced that it will give $7 million to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Yale University and the University of Texas in Austin.

This investment is part of the DOE's SunShot initiative, which was launched in 2011. It has provided $27 million to support the development, commercialization, and manufacturing of advanced solar energy technologies without using subsidies.

This is its latest investment, which will help deploy residential rooftop solar power systems across the nation. The funding will also support the development of computer models for analyzing data from solar panel installation companies and to help determine the most effective ways to roll out solar power systems, Energy Matters said.

The main focus of Yale's research will be community-led bulk solar purchase programs. The initiative is similar to Oregon's Solarize campaign, which has delivered more than 1.7 megawatts of rooftop solar power in the state, according to Energy Matters.

"Through powerful analytical tools developed by our nation's top universities and national labs, we can gain unparalleled insight into solar deployment that will help lower the cost of solar power and create new businesses and jobs," said outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Chu is set to leave his post later this month.
   
The University of North Carolina--Charlotte, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and SRI International will also share $2 million to develop software to analyze scientific publications, technological breakthroughs and patents.

For more:
- see the DOE's site

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