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the u.s. needs a solar energy revolution. but it’s laying off solar energy researchers

by:Top-In     2020-07-29
On Monday, Oct.
5. Stuart Farrell plans to take a vacation from the work of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory researcher (NREL)
Gold in Colorado.
After taking care of his illness, he stayed up all night. year-old son. But at 10:30 a. m.
He received a call asking him to come to the meeting at 11: 30.
\"I wake up and try to keep myself awake as much as possible and then start working,\" Farrell said . \".
\"I went to the meeting with my manager and the people above him and they told me that I was fired.
The rest of the day I packed up and left.
\"Farrell, who has been working in solar research in the laboratory for two and a half years, is one of the 15 solar research workers who have been fired due to federal funding cuts, said George Douglas, NREL public affairs manager.
Another 40 to 60 staff members are expected to be lost through the voluntary resignation plan that the laboratory will launch in October. 12.
Almost all researchers who have been laid off have been involved in the \"next generation\" or long term
Solar Research, Douglas said.
Farrell\'s work, for example, involves research to improve the efficiency of tellur cadmium-based solar cells.
\"We did everything we could to support the funding,\" Douglas said . \".
\"But about a month ago, it was clear that there was not enough money to leave the project in the lab.
Experts say this is the latest sign of a trend that is undermining the US economy. S.
Efforts to promote alternative energy: Federal funding for solar research has steadily declined over the past few years, despite the Obama administration\'s emphasis on continuing to invest in research and development of clean energy technologies.
These cuts affect the entire federal solar program, not just the solar research of NREL.
At the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas in August, President Obama praised the expansion of solar energy in the United States. S.
And said, \"now is not the time to insist on large-scale cuts in investment in [
Research and Development]
This helps drive our economy, including hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts that many Republicans want from these successful jobs --
Create a clean energy project.
Solar investment is on a downward trend.
However, federal funding for solar research, negotiated and approved by Congress, and for all other federal activities, appears to be declining every year.
These cuts are shown in the form of a steady reduction in the Energy Department\'s Solar Technology Office (SETO)
This is the leading U. S.
The agency funded solar research, including NREL\'s solar research, and ran the SunShot Initiative, a set of goals designed to compete solar energy with other forms of electricity by 2020.
In the fiscal year 2012, SETO was allocated nearly $0. 289 billion through funding to the Department of Energy.
In 2013, solar received $0. 269 billion.
That figure fell to $0. 257 billion in 2014 and $0. 233 billion in 2015.
It has fallen by about 19% since 2012.
A person involved in federal solar research pointed out that although the budget has not yet been finalized by Congress, the 2016 allocation is expected to be about $0. 22 billion.
According to Douglas, although the NREL itself has a \"fixed budget\" in the past few years, part of its funding for solar research has declined, in line with the overall reduction in the federal solar budget.
Some outside researchers lamented what happened in the office.
\"NREL is actually one of the smallest national laboratories and I think it is one of the most influential laboratories in any national laboratory,\" said Al Compaan, President and CTO of Lucintech, a company involved in photovoltaic module development.
\"I am particularly distressed to see further cuts in funding [to NREL].
For example, NREL\'s support is indispensable to the success of First Solar, a photovoltaic manufacturer, and compaan calls it \"one of the federal government\'s dazzling stars who successfully supported Solar energy.
\"These cuts don\'t seem to be what the government wants --
Even though the White House raises higher budget requirements every year, this has happened.
In the fiscal year 2015, the government requested $0. 282 billion for the office of solar technology and $2016 for more than $0. 336 billion.
\"By supporting the thin film solar panels, the SunShot Initiative and the department\'s national laboratories, including technologies such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, it has helped American households and businesses make solar energy more affordable and accessible, A spokesman for the Department of Energy said in a statement to The Post.
\"Investment in our labs and energy research and development is essential to continue to reduce solar costs and enhance the competitive advantage of the United States in clean energy.
However, the budget allocation has not met the requirements in the past few years, applied research, especially in the long termterm, forward-
It looks like Farrell\'s project with NREL is one of the areas that has been suffering.
The reason for the cuts may be related to budget segregation or restrictions on the size of the federal budget, which may force spending cuts in certain areas to reduce the total budget.
A shift in reducing \"soft\" costs.
The long-term impact is not just on overall budget cuts.
Long-term solar research projects in the United StatesS.
This is also a change in the way solar funds are used.
More and more surplus funds are being used for short selling.
Efforts to reduce costs are not the next generation of research that has been prioritized in the past.
\"What is happening now in solar projects in the United States? S.
This is a huge change in what it wants to accomplish, \"said Robert bilmere, director of the Institute for Energy Conversion at the University of Delaware.
At present, the Department of Energy\'s main focus has shifted to the Sunshine Program, which aims to reduce solar costs in a short period of time.
This means that, while funding has generally declined from one year to the next, it is increasingly being used to achieve the objectives of the initiative. “The guidance [
From the Department of Energy
\"I \'ve been trying to achieve these targets of sunlight, so that\'s where money goes,\" Douglas said . \".
\"Researchers who work for a long time --
There is less and less funding for the semester program.
Birkmire pointed out, \"their analysis in this regard shows that, in fact, their greatest success may be to reduce what they call soft costs.
\"These are the costs associated with solar installation and have nothing to do with the actual price of the hardware --
For example, the associated cost of obtaining a solar installation permit or conducting an inspection, and the cost of the supply chain loss.
Reducing these costs has become a major priority for DOE as a way to achieve the SunShot Initiative goals, and SETO notes that they can account for more than 50% of the cost of solar systems.
In fact, despite the overall decline in federal solar funding, the allocation for lower soft costs increased from $29.
It was $6 million in 2013, or about $42.
2014 6 million.
Funds fell to $40 in 2015.
7 million, although the 2016 budget request included an allocation of $67.
3 million reduction in soft costs
In this way, the study of solar technology has been hit twice.
Overall budget cuts and changes in the way funds are allocated remaining.
Despite these reductions, solar energy itself continues to expand and contribute to carbon dioxide in the United States. S.
At least to a certain extent, it is due to the import of solar components from other countries, especially China. The U. S.
Since the 90 s, the market share of photovoltaic manufacturing has dropped sharply, and China has become a major source of module shipments in the past five years.
On the competitive power of science
According to a report by congressional research agency 2015, China produced about 2-
The third solar component in the world in 2013, most of which were exported.
The same report states that \"[U. S. ]
Imports of solar cells and solar panels nearly tripled from 2009 to $3.
It was 6 billion in 2013, \"most of them from Asia.
By contrast, the United StatesS.
In 2013, $0. 35 billion worth of PV products were exported to the world. So while the U. S.
As an alternative energy source, the role of solar energy in International Photovoltaic development and manufacturing may be shrinking.
\"It\'s sad to see the manufacturing elements [Mobile Offshore
But we live in the reality of the global market . \"
Birkmire added, \"the real main goal is to reduce the carbon footprint.
Where did you get the product . . . . . . I can argue in two ways.
But Compaan also warned that a continued reduction in R & D funding could undermine economic growth in the United States. S.
The ability to train new labor forces in the \"photovoltaic module field\" to continue research, in which innovation may become increasingly valuable in the coming years.
Farrell added that in NREL-
He said he had no idea the layoffs would come before he was fired --
The lab has not set aside any time for outgoing scientists to train other staff to take over their positions.
\"We are all scientists, love our work, love the work we are doing,\" Farrell said. \"If they tell us that we will leave in two months or one month, we can train others. \" He added that he left \"millions\"
He doesn\'t believe others in the lab know how to use the devices.
\"So I believe it will take at least three months for NREL to restore their current expertise.
\"This is assuming they have enough people to manage all the projects they are working on,\" he said . \".
\"As solar becomes more competitive, even without subsidies or incentives, the need for a trained workforce becomes more urgent,\" said Compaan of Lucintech . \".
\"The lack of funding does affect our ability to meet our commitments in reducing carbon emissions and taking steps to mitigate climate change.
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