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Program Assessment


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Solar Energy

The program aims to develop solar energy devices and systems that are more affordable, efficient, and reliable than currently available. It funds research, development, technical assistance, and education activities carried out by industry, universities, & national labs.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • In 2000, an external peer review found that the program had contributed to the reduced cost of power using solar photovoltaic technology. The National Research Council report also included several management and technical recommendations, such as not creating unrealistic expectations about commercial deployment.
  • The program has expanded research on solar photovoltaics and renewed research on concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. Funding for CSP technologies was reduced in 2002-2003 based on recommendation of the National Research Council. However, a recent independent report suggests further cost reductions are possible.
  • This program and other applied research and development programs at the Department of Energy are working to improve their estimates of potential program benefits and use that information to guide budget decisions. The program has made significant progress, but estimates are not yet comparable between programs.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Continuing to address technical and management recommendations made by the National Research Council peer review in 2000 and subsequent peer reviews in 2003 and 2005.
  • Focusing on a new long-term goal to make solar photovolatic technology cost-competitive with conventional electricity generation by 2015.
  • Developing guidance that specifies a consistent framework for analyzing the costs and benefits of research and development investments, and using this information to guide budget decisions.

Learn More

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