In February 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched its SunShot initiative, a collaborative national effort to cut the total cost of photovoltaic solar energy systems by 75% by 2020. Reaching this goal would make unsubsidized solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity and get grid parity . The SunShot initiative included a crowdsourced innovation program run in partnership with Topcoder, during which 17 different solar energy application solutions were developed in 60 days. In 2011, the price was $4/W, and the SunShot goal of $1/W by 2020 was reached in 2017.
Strong winds, sunny skies, abundant plant matter, heat from the earth, and fast-moving water can each provide a vast and constantly replenished supply of energy. A relatively small fraction of US electricity currently comes from these sources, but that could change: studies have repeatedly shown that renewable energy can provide a significant share of future electricity needs, even after accounting for potential constraints .
Solar-powered electric demonstration vehicles have been built by universities and manufacturers. Solar collector areas have proved to be too large for conventional cars, however. Development continues on solar cell design.
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2011. IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Prepared by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1075 pp. (Chapter 9).
People have used the sun as a heat source for thousands of years. Families in ancient Greece built their homes to get the most sunlight during the cold winter months. In the 1830s, explorer John Herschel used a solar collector to cook food during an adventure in Africa. You can even try this at home!
Solar is the Latin word for sun—a powerful source of energy that can be used to heat, cool, and light our homes and businesses. That’s because more energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year. A variety of technologies convert sunlight to usable energy for buildings. The most commonly used solar technologies for homes and businesses are solar water heating, passive solar design for space heating and cooling, and solar photovoltaics for electricity.
Beginning with the 2014 data year, Energy Information Administration has estimated distributed solar photovoltaic generation and distributed solar photovoltaic capacity. These non-utility scale estimates that the United States, generated the following additional electric energy from such distributed solar PV systems.
In 2000, the United Nations Development Programme, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and World Energy Council published an estimate of the potential solar energy that could be used by humans each year that took into account factors such as insolation, cloud cover, and the land that is usable by humans. The estimate found that solar energy has a global potential of 1,575–49,837 EJ per year (see table below).
 Epstein, P.R.,J. J. Buonocore, K. Eckerle, M. Hendryx, B. M. Stout III, R. Heinberg, R. W. Clapp, B. May, N. L. Reinhart, M. M. Ahern, S. K. Doshi, and L. Glustrom. 2011. Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal in “Ecological Economics Reviews.” Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1219: 73–98.
That’s because too https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=ZcJNXj6wprk electricity can overload the transmission system and result in power outages, just as too little can. Complicating matters is that even when CAISO requires large-scale solar plants to shut off panels, it can’t control solar rooftop installations that are churning out electricity.
We make it easy to switch to solar. Our dedicated team will handle everything from start to finish. We’ll even assign a solar concierge to your project who will guide you through the process and keep you informed about what’s happening every step of the way. It all begins with a quick consultation.
While a relatively small fraction of our overall energy supply in 2012 (the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration), the United States was the world’s largest consumer of renewable energy from geothermal, solar, wood, wind, and waste for electric power generation producing 22% of the world’s total. In 2015, the distribution of U.S. renewable consumption by source was [iii]:
In the absence of cost-effective storage, solar electricity can never be a primary energy source for society, because of the diurnal variation in local insolation. In principle, storage of electricity could be obtained using batteries, but at present no battery is inexpensive enough, when amortized over the 30-yr lifetime of a solar device, to satisfy the needed cost per W targets for the whole system. A second method is to store the electrical energy mechanically. For instance, electricity could be used to drive turbines to pump water uphill. This approach is relatively inexpensive for storing large amounts of energy at modest charge and discharge rates, but is not well matched to being charged and discharged every 24 h to compensate for the diurnal cycle. For example, buffering the day/night cycle in the U.S. energy demand by this approach would require a pumping capacity equivalent of >5,000 Hoover Dams, filling and emptying reservoirs every day and every night. Currently, the cheapest method of solar energy capture, conversion, and storage is solar thermal technology, which can cost as little as $0.10–0.15 per kW-hr for electricity production. Advances in this potentially very important approach to solar energy utilization will require new materials for the focusing and thermal capture of the energy in sunlight, as well as new thermochemical cycles for producing useful fuel from the captured solar energy. The possibility of integrated capture, conversion, and storage functions makes solar thermal technology an option that should be vigorously pursued to exploit the large untapped solar energy resource for carbon-neutral energy production
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Businesses and industry also use these technologies to diversify their energy sources, improve efficiency, and save money. Solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies are also being used by developers and utilities to produce electricity on a massive scale to power cities and small towns. Learn more about the following solar technologies:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included more than $70 billion in direct spending and tax credits for clean energy and associated transportation programs. This policy-stimulus combination represents the largest federal commitment in United States history for renewable energy, advanced transportation, and energy conservation initiatives. These new initiatives were expected to encourage many more utilities to strengthen their clean energy programs. While the Department of Energy has come under criticism for providing loan guarantees to Solyndra, its SunShot initiative has funded successful companies such as EnergySage and Zep Solar.