Envisioning a Low-Cost Solar Future: Exploring the Potential Impact of Achieving the SunShot 2030 Targets for Photovoltaics

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26 Scopus Citations


In the context of recent dramatic solar energy cost reductions, the U.S. Department of Energy set new levelized cost of energy goals for photovoltaics (PV) to achieve by 2030 to enable significantly greater PV adoption: $0.03/kWh for utility-scale, $0.04/kWh for commercial, and $0.05/kWh for residential PV systems. We analyze the potential impacts of achieving these “SunShot 2030” cost targets for the contiguous United States using the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) and Distributed Generation (dGen) capacity expansion models. We consider the impacts under a wide range of future conditions. We find that PV could provide 13%–18% of U.S. electricity demand in 2030 and 28%–64% of demand if the SunShot 2030 goals are achieved, with PV deployment increasing in every state. The availability of low-cost storage has the largest impact on projected deployment, followed by natural gas prices and electricity demand. For comparison, PV deployed under a business-as-usual scenario could provide only 5% of generation in 2030 and 17% in 2050. We find that the high levels of PV deployment explored here lead to lower electricity prices and system costs, lower carbon dioxide emissions, lower water consumption, increased renewable energy curtailment, and increased storage deployment compared with the business-as-usual scenario.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)690-704
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-70728


  • Capacity expansion
  • Energy storage
  • PV
  • ReEDS
  • Renewable energy
  • SunShot


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