In a significant move towards advancing renewable energy and reducing environmental impact, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed $20 million to optimize the lifecycle of solar energy systems and minimize technological waste. This funding, sourced from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, includes $8 million allocated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The investment aims to boost the performance of photovoltaic (PV) systems, streamline solar technology recycling, and strengthen the domestic supply chain. The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the allocation as part of the broader Bidenomics initiative and President Biden’s commitment to the Investing in America agenda. The funding is expected to drive improvements in the quality, resilience, and eco-friendliness of PV systems while encouraging the reuse and recyclability of solar panels. The establishment of a Solar Partnership to Advance Recycling and Circularity will play a key role in advancing materials recovery and promoting safe end-of-life practices for PV components.
Projects funded through this program will take a holistic approach to accelerate solar energy deployment throughout the United States over the next decade. In addition to promoting sustainable practices, these initiatives are expected to create job opportunities in communities nationwide, aligning with the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious climate goals.
Dubbed the Materials, Operation, and Recycling of Photovoltaics (MORE PV) funding opportunity, this initiative aims to sustain and expedite the growth of the American PV industry. The funding opportunity invites participation from various sectors, including higher education institutions, for-profit and non-profit entities, state and local governments, as well as tribal entities.
The groundwork for this investment was laid in September 2021 when the DOE released the Solar Futures Study, which outlined solar power’s crucial role in decarbonizing the electric grid. According to the study, solar power’s contribution to US electricity needs to increase from the current 5% to 40% by 2035 and 45% by 2050. Achieving this ambitious target would necessitate the expansion of the PV industry to four or five times its current size within the next decade. By minimizing material usage and improving recycling practices, PV system deployment can become less reliant on supply chain limitations, facilitating this unprecedented growth.
To foster collaboration and ensure transparent communication, an informational webinar will be held on July 26 at 1 p.m. ET. Interested applicants are required to submit a letter of intent by September 6 at 5 pm ET and a concept paper by September 13 at 5 pm ET before proceeding with the full application process.
This funding opportunity reinforces DOE’s Photovoltaics End-of-Life Action Plan, which seeks to cut recycling costs in half by 2030 and reduce the environmental impact of retired solar energy modules. It builds upon previous investments made under the 2022 Photovoltaics Research and Development funding program, which aimed to develop durable and recyclable solar technologies. Furthermore, it complements the recent announcement of $5.1 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to foster the development of a circular wind energy economy.