color balance, and cost and is already very attractive for many niche applications. Solid-state lighting is already cost-competitive for general lighting applications in which significant labor is involved in changing lightbulbs.
Finding: There is no suitable green LED available to allow efficient RGB color rendering.
Key Recommendation: The Department of Energy (DOE) should develop a plan for grid parity across the United States by 2020.
“Grid parity” is defined here as the situation in which any power source is no more expensive to use than power from the electric grid. Solar power electric plants should be as cheap, without subsidies, as alternatives. It is understood that this will be more difficult in New England than in the southwestern United States, but the DOE should strive for grid parity in both locations.
Even though significant progress is being made toward reducing the cost of solar energy, it is important that the United States bring the cost of solar energy down to the price of other current alternatives without subsidy and maintain a significant U.S. role in developing and manufacturing solar energy alternatives. There is a need not only for affordable renewable energy but also for creating jobs in the United States. A focus in this area can contribute to both. Lowering the cost of solar cell technology will involve both technology and manufacturing advances.
This key recommendation leads directly to the fourth grand challenge question:
4. How can U.S. energy stakeholders achieve cost parity across the nation’s electric grid for solar power versus new fossil-fuel-powered electric plants by the year 2020?
The impact on U.S. and world economies from being able to answer this question would be substantial. Imagine what could be done with a renewable energy source, with minimal environmental impact, that is more cost-effective than nonrenewable alternatives. Although this is an ambitious goal, the committee poses it as a grand challenge question, something requiring an extra effort to achieve. Today, it is not known how to achieve this cost parity with current solar cell technologies. Additionally, it is important to recall the statement made in 2010 by the America’s Energy Future Panel on Electricity from Renewable Resources in the report Electricity from Renewable Resources: Status, Prospects, and Impediments.