June 28, 2006

Bush Admin to Offer $170 mln for Solar Energy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Wednesday it would offer $170 million to public and private partnerships to make solar energy more competitive with conventional electricity sources by 2015.

The funding would be for three years, beginning in fiscal-year 2007. It would require industry-led teams to match each dollar the government gives them toward the project, which could generate an additional $170 million.

The U.S. Energy Department said projects would need to focus on improving so-called photovoltaic cell technology which produces energy when exposed to light.

"We will be asking the winning partnerships to focus their work on new manufacturing techniques as well as new component designs that will allow us to bring down the cost of producing photovoltaic fuel cells as quickly as possible," said U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman.

U.S. Energy Department said the projects are part of the administration's Solar America Initiative which seeks in part to reduce photovoltaic costs from 13-22 cents per kilowatt to 9-18 cents per kilowatt by 2010.

The $170 million contribution by the administration is subject to funding from Congress.