H.R. 3585: Solar Technology Roadmap Act

H.R. 3585

Solar Technology Roadmap Act

Date
October 22, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

H.R. 3585  was introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on September 16, 2009. The bill will be considered under a structured rule, H. Res. 846, which provides one hour of general debate and makes 11 amendments in order (including one Republican amendment).

Bill Summary

H.R. 3585 would require the Secretary of Energy to conduct a program of research, development, and demonstration for solar technology and make awards to promote the same for solar technology (including photovoltaics , solar hot water and solar space heating and cooling, lighting systems, etc). Academic institutions, national laboratories, federal research agencies, State research agencies, nonprofit research organizations, industrial entities and industry consortia would be applicable for these awards.

The bill also requires the Secretary to establish and provide support for a Solar Technology Roadmap Committee that would present the "best current estimate of the near-term, mid-term, and long-term research, development, and demonstration needs in solar technology," as well as "provide guidance to the solar technology research, development, and demonstration activities supported by the federal government for the purposes of meeting national priorities in energy security, U.S. competitiveness, mitigation of adverse environmental impacts, and energy diversification." The Committee would be tasked with establishing a Solar Technology Roadmap, which the Secretary of Energy would be required to follow.

Specifically, the Roadmap would identify research, development, and demonstration needs for solar technologies and ways to address how to store solar energy; solar technology solutions and limitations; design, materials, and manufacturing of solar technologies; and how to integrate solar energy into the electricity grid. H.R. 3585 also requires the Roadmap to identify opportunities for coordination with partner industries and establish its goals with recommended timelines for improving performance, decreasing cost of electricity generated, improving reliability, and decreasing potential negative environmental impacts.

The bill includes a Sense of Congress declaring that it is U.S. policy that at least 75 percent of funding for Department of Energy solar technology research, development, and demonstration activities support a diversity of activities identified and recommended by the Roadmap Committee.

H.R. 3585 requires that the Committee be made up of at least 11 members, with each member being appointed by the Secretary from among experts in the following fields: different sectors of the domestic solar technology industry, including manufacturers and equipment suppliers; national laboratories; academia; relevant federal agencies; relevant State and local government agencies; private research institutions; and other entities or organizations as appropriate. The bill requires that at least one third of the Committee be made up of individuals from industry.

The bill would also require the Secretary to establish a new grant program for demonstration projects supporting the development of solar energy production, consistent with the Solar Technology Roadmap. The bill lays out specific benchmarks for each demonstration project.

H.R. 3538 requires the Secretary to award grants for research, development, and demonstration activities to create new approaches to increase reuse and recycling of photovoltaic devices and contribute to the "professional development of scientists, engineers, and technicians in the fields of photovoltaic and electronic device manufacturing, design, refurbishing, and recycling." The bill also requires the Secretary to study the performance of a photovoltaic installation in the U.S.

The bill repeals current solar programs funded at the Department of Energy, and includes a provision that, according to the Majority Science and Technology Committee staff, is intended to ensure that these new programs would replace existing programs for solar research.

H.R. 3585 authorizes $350 million for FY 2011, $400 million for FY 2012, $450 million for FY 2013, $500 for FY 2014, and $550 million for FY 2015.

Background

Previous spending for solar programs at the Department of Energy range from $166 million to $225 million.  The following is the most recent spending on solar programs at the Department of Energy:

  • $166.3 million in FY 2008;
  • $175 million in FY 2009;
  • $225 million in FY 2010 Energy and Water Conference Report;
  • $117.6 million in H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the so-called "stimulus" bill.

Currently, solar energy makes up only one percent of the seven percent of the renewable energy consumed in the U.S. despite receiving hundreds of millions of federal renewable research and development subsidies for 30 years. 

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 3585 would authorize appropriations totaling $2.25 billion over the 2011-2015 period for the Department of Energy (DOE) to support various programs related to solar energy technology. Based on information from DOE and assuming appropriation of the authorized and necessary amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2014 period and about $840 million after 2014. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.


H.R. 3585 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.

Amendments

1)  Rep. Gordon (D-TN):  The amendment would make the following technical changes:

a.     Includes photovoltaics and related electronic components, including inverters, charge controllers, and energy monitors under eligible research areas for the Secretary programs.

b.     Includes federally funded research and development centers as eligible entities for grants for research and development from the Department of Energy.

c.     Limits all awards offered to be limited to research and development in the United States.

d.     Requires the Committee to research ways to reduce regional disparities in the use of solar technologies; look into improving the cost effectiveness and quality control of domestic manufacturing of implements and devices used in the production of solar energy; and identify best practices for Department of Energy national laboratories of higher education and private industry to more efficiently and effectively bring new solar technologies to the marketplace.

e.     Requires the Committee to consult with the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration on the potential for solar demonstration projects on federal lands.

f.      Requires the Secretary to consider individuals that represent diverse geographic regions of the U.S. for membership of the Committee.

g.     Limits the Committee to providing guidance on technical goals and activities but cannot recommend or select specific recipients.

h.     Adds to the areas of research under the Solar Technology Demonstration Projects those projects located in geographically dispersed regions of the country that are not concentrated in any single geographical region.

i.      Among the recommended uses for the demonstration grants, the amendment adds projects that promote accessibility and community implementation of demonstrated technologies.

j.      Requires that at least one demonstration project be awarded in Fiscal Year 2011 for the demonstration of organic photovoltaic cell technologies.

k.      Requires a new study from the Secretary on the potential applications of micro power stations using solar technology in underserved communities and make recommendations to Congress for increasing access to and implementation of solar technology in such communities.

l.      Establishes a new pilot program within the Department of Energy to provide grants for projects to protect against solar technology equipment theft, including projects for mapping large-scale solar projects and equipment serial number registries.

 

2)    Rep. Broun (R-GA):  The amendment would reduce the number of years the Committee is authorized for from five to three.  The amendment would also reduce the amount authorized to $250,000,000 for each of the three years, from 2011 to 2013.

 

3)    Rep. Hastings (D-FL):  The amendment would require that a representative from a minority-serving institution is a member of the Solar Technology Roadmap Committee.

 

4)    Rep. Cardoza (D-CA):  The amendment would expand the types of technology the Energy Secretary can consider from "solar thermal electric technology" to "solar thermal power technology."  It also would require the Secretary, in carrying out demonstration projects, to include at least two solar thermal technology projects, with thermal storage, that generate between one and three megawatts continuously for a 24-hour period from energy provided entirely by the sun.

 

5)    Rep. Kaptur (D-OH):  The amendment would require the Roadmap Committee to provide recommendations to strengthen the link between solar technology research and the commercialization of those technologies (including the retooling and reworking of the nation's existing technological and manufacturing base, as well as coordinating the national strategy in regions where solar technology currently exist); and provide recommendations to federal agencies on strategies to accelerate domestic commercialization of newly developed solar technologies. 

 

6)    Rep. Marshall (D-GA): The amendment would require the Secretary, when carrying out solar technology demonstration projects, to evaluate the potential to establish large photovoltaic facilities that produce at least 100 gigawatts, including an evaluation of the electrical grid, current, voltage, and energy storage requirements associated with large photovoltaic facilities.

 

7)    Rep. Klein (D-FL):  The amendment would include development of storage technology that can be used to increase the usefulness and value of solar technologies as eligible for funding under the Secretary of Energy's research and development program. 

 

8)    Reps. Titus (D-NV) / Teague (D-NM) / Cohen (D-TN):  The amendment would add to the focuses of the bill research and development of solar technology products that are water efficient.

 

9)    Rep. Heinrich (D-NM):  The amendment would require the Solar Technology Roadmap Committee to release a draft Roadmap to the public at least one month prior to a final publication in order to receive input from the public.

 

10)  Rep. Himes (D-CT): The amendment would include solar thermal technologies and concentrating solar photovoltaic technologies within the scope of the research and development programs authorized by the bill.

 

11)  Rep. Murphy (D-NY):  The amendment would require the Solar Technology Roadmap Committee to submit an annual report to the Secretary of Energy and the Congress on its activities over the prior 12-month period.