We Should Pursue All Solar OptionsFor solar to take a bigger place in our energy mix, we need a whole basket of technologies to move forward and be deployed on a much larger scale than they are now. All kinds of solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies are being developed in the lab to increase efficiency and reduce costs, while manufacturing techniques and economies of scale should make prices drop further per watt of capacity over time. Passive solar is a low-hanging fruit, and should be used a lot more (including solar water heaters, which should be on nearly all roofs in certain areas), and large scale concentrating solar power (CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which is then used to produce electricity) projects are also needed. This is the latter that the U.S. Department of Energy has decided to help with its latest round of grants.
The U.S. DOE is awarding 56 million dollars to 21 projects in businesses, universities, and national laboratories across 13 states. The money will be spent over 3 years, and hopefully it will help draw more money from the private sector to the field and help speed up important breakthroughs.
"These awards will help speed innovations in new components to lower costs, increase operating temperatures and improve the efficiency of CSP systems. The 3-year applied research projects announced today will focus on achieving dramatic improvements in CSP performance, while driving progress toward the SunShot goal of 75 percent cost reduction."
You can see a full list here (pdf).