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Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007

Bill Summary and Status

Reported (as amended) by the Full Committee June 27, 2007

An amendment offered by Mr. Inglis (R-SC) was defeated

Reported by the Energy and Environment Subcommittee (as amended) June 21, 2007

Introduced in the House June 19, 2007

Bill Summary

The bill directs the Secretary to establish a research and development program on thermal energy storage technologies for concentrating solar power (CSP), and conduct two CSP studies. One study will determine the necessary steps to integrate CSP plants with the regional and national electric grid, and the other will examine ways to reduce water usage in CSP plants. The bill also establishes a program to create and strengthen solar industry workforce training and internship programs across the nation in installation, operation, and maintenance of solar energy products. In addition, the bill creates a research and development program in solar air conditioning, a program to support the commercial application of direct solar lighting technology, and a nationwide solar demonstration program.

Section by Section

Section 1. Short Title
Act may be cited as the “Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007”.

Section 2. Definitions
Provides definitions for the following terms used in the Act: ‘Department’ and ‘Secretary’

Section 3. Thermal Energy Storage Research and Development Program
Section 3(a) instructs the Secretary to establish a research and development program on thermal energy storage technologies for concentrating solar power. Section 3(b) authorizes appropriations of $5,000,000 in fiscal year 2008, $7,000,000 in fiscal year 2009, $9,000,000 in fiscal year 2010, $10,000,000 in fiscal year 2011, and $12,000,000 in fiscal year 2012.

Section 4. Concentrating Solar Power Commercial Application Studies
Section 4(a) instructs the Secretary to conduct a study that will determine the necessary steps to integrate concentrating solar power plants with the regional and national electric grid. Results of shall be submitted to Congress no later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act. Section 4(b) instructs the Secretary to conduct a study on methods to reduce the amount of water consumed by concentrating solar power plants. Results of shall be submitted to Congress no later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

Section 5. Solar Energy Curriculum Development and Certification Grants
Section 5(a) instructs the Secretary to establish a competitive grant program to create and strengthen solar industry workforce training and internship programs in installation, operation, and maintenance of solar energy products. Section 5(b) describes authorized activities for these grant funds, including support of curriculum development, certification programs, and internship programs. Section 5(c) describes the administration of grants, instructing the Secretary to ensure sufficient geographic distribution of training programs nationally, and to only award grants to certified training programs or new and growing programs with a credible path to certification. Section 5(d) instructs the Secretary to make information on grants awarded under this program publicly available. Section 5(e) authorizes $10 million for this program in each fiscal year from FY08 through FY12.

Section 6. Daylighting Systems and Direct Solar Light Pipe Technology
Section 6(a) establishes a program to assist the demonstration and commercial application of direct solar lighting technology. Section 6(b) instructs the Secretary to transmit an annual report on the energy savings of each project funded by this program. Section 6(c) provides definitions for “direct solar renewable energy” and “light pipe”. Section 6(d) authorizes $3.5 million for this program in each fiscal year from FY08 through FY12.

Section 7. Solar Air Conditioning Research and Development Program
Section 7(a) establishes a research, development, and demonstration program in solar-driven air conditioning. Section 7(b) describes authorized activities for these grant funds, including advancing solar thermal collectors, integrating with other electric and thermal systems, enabling mass manufacturing capability, and improving energy efficiency. Section 7(c) states that the non-Federal share of research and development projects under this program shall not be less than 20 percent, and for demonstration projects shall be not less than 50 percent. Section 7(d) authorizes $2.5 million for this program in each fiscal year from FY08 through FY12.

Section 8. Photovoltaic Demonstration Program
Section 8(a) establishes a program of grants to States to demonstrate advanced photovoltaic technology. Section 8(b) states that each State submitting qualifying proposals shall receive funding under this program based on the proportion of the U.S. population in the State according to the 2000 census. Section 8(c) instructs the Secretary to allocate 25% of program funds to be awarded on a competitive basis if more the $25 million is available for this program in any fiscal year. Section 8(d) instructs the Secretary to solicit initial proposals within 6 months after the enactment of this Act. Section 8(e) describes criteria that the Secretary shall use in competitively awarding funds, including the likelihood a proposal will encourage demonstration of advanced solar technologies, the proportion of the non-Federal cost share, and the State’s administrative costs. Section 8(f) describes criteria that States with funding under this section will use in awarding competitive grants, including a required 60% minimum non-Federal cost share, a maximum of 10% in State administrative costs, and a requirement that applicant buildings must have received an independent energy efficiency audit during the 6-month period preceding the filing of the application. Section 8(g) returns any funds that a State fails to expend under this program within 3 years of receipt to the Treasury. Section 8(h) instructs the Secretary to report the results of this program to Congress 5 years after funds are first distributed to the States. Section 8(i) authorizes appropriations of $15,000,000 in fiscal year 2008, $30,000,000 in fiscal year 2009, $45,000,000 in fiscal year 2010, $60,000,000 in fiscal year 2011, and $70,000,000 in fiscal year 2012.

110th Congress