Low-cost solar power could save US consumers $20bn

Solar energy could help consumers save more than $20 billion (£13bn) in the US every year by 2050 if price reduction targets are met, according to a new study. Using […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Solar energy could help consumers save more than $20 billion (£13bn) in the US every year by 2050 if price reduction targets are met, according to a new study.

Using a detailed computer model of West America’s electric power grid, researchers at the Berkeley University of California (UC) predicted what would happen if the US Department of Energy (DOE) succeeded with its SunShot initiative. The programme aims to make solar power more affordable and accessible to people in the US.

The study found if DOE achieves its goal of reducing the cost of solar to $0.06 cents per kilowatt-hour, it will displace natural gas, nuclear and carbon capture technologies while reducing emissions 80% below 1990 levels. The scientists claim solar power would also supply more than a third of all energy needs in western America and save consumers 14% on their annual energy bills.

The news follows a $30 million (£19.7m) fund announced by the DOE last month to develop new cost-effective solar technologies in the country.

Ana Mileva, first author and a UC Berkeley graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group said: “Our goal is to study how we can keep costs low and ensure that the grid stays reliable as we transition to an electricity system with lower emissions and higher levels of intermittent renewable generation.”

The computer model called SWITCH was developed in the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at the University to study generation, transmission and storage options.

The DOE currently invests around $300 million (£195.5m) every year in solar energy technologies in the US.