Strategic Objectives of the California Solar Energy Collaborative

The strategic objectives of the CSEC are as follows:

  1. Provide a unique forum to collect and critically analyze existing solar research and technology developments, and to develop consensus among key stakeholders
  2. Facilitate research in gap areas where existing data are insufficient
  3. Track the evolving landscape of research in solar technology in California
  4. Develop or provide tutorial and training materials on solar energy technologies for educators and the public
  5. Inform policy and RD&D priorities by providing technical review of statewide policy and research initiatives and publicly debated issues; by assisting the evaluation of market trends and growth patterns; and by evaluating the regulatory, economic and financial constraints and barriers impacting the stakeholders
  6. Acquire support from external entities to sustain the CSEC’s role and enhance activities in basic and applied solar energy research

Solar Energy in the State of California

The California Solar Initiative (CSI), which was signed into law (Senate Bill 1) in 2007, has set an ambitious target of installing 3,000 MW of solar power in California by 2017. The state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Energy Action Plan (EAP) have also set very aggressive targets for renewable resources, a significant portion of which is expected to be met by solar energy (including both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power). California is at the leading edge in the implementation of solar energy in the United States.

At the same time, the technological and entrepreneurial infrastructure of California is being brought to bear on the development of new technologies with the potential to provide dramatic reductions in the cost of solar electricity, through new materials and manufacturing techniques, advanced device and system technologies, and innovative schemes for financing solar power systems at the residential to utility scale. These developments are expected to have, on various time scales, a major impact on the economic viability of solar power generation, but strategic actions by the Collaborative, California Energy Commission, and others could be key facilitators in bridging the gaps that traditionally exist between research advances and commercialization.

Strategic Action Items

Identify key needs and priorities for accelerated development and implementation of solar power in California

  • Interact with key stakeholders from manufacturing, utility, research, financial, environmental and policy communities to identify major challenges from their perspectives.
  • Formulate and evaluate priorities for technology development in both photovoltaic and concentrated solar power.
  • Stay informed on and assess emerging technologies that depend on solar energy, e.g. synthetic photosynthesis to produce fuels
  • Identify policy gaps and needs that would facilitate accelerated implementation of solar power systems in the state, at both residential and utility scales.
  • Coordinate with Commission staff the development of streamlined and effective solicitations for research funds.

Develop mechanisms to efficiently transfer the results of R&under-construction.html38;D to enhance market penetration of solar technology.

  • Provide periodic opportunities for members of the research, financial/investment, policy and manufacturing communities to interact on “neutral ground”, to facilitate rapid transfer of research results to commercial implementation.
  • Identify needs and challenges perceived by end users, e.g., utilities and system installers, to help focus research, development and manufacturing activities in the solar power area.

Improve communication between the stakeholder community and the regulatory, environmental and policy communities such that information is readily available for developing effective policy and incentive efforts.

  • Identify roadblocks to implementation of solar power systems that could be addressed effectively through appropriate policy or legislative action.
  • Develop materials and web sites for analysis and dissemination of this information to a broad range of stakeholders.
  • Provide periodic forums at which interaction between stakeholders in the research, development, manufacturing, and utility communities and those in the policy arena can take place.

Develop a funding base beyond that provided by PIER funds.

  • Evaluate opportunities for obtaining funding support external to PIER funds and develop a plan for acquiring those funds.
  • Diversify the population of the CSEC to reflect the broader community of energy consumers, and use that base to identify additional funding opportunities.