Yale Gets Award To Help Grow Solar Energy
President Kennedy's "Moon Shot" program put Neil Armstrong on the moon. Inspired by that program, the U.S. Department of Energy's "SunShot Initiative” aims to make solar energy more affordable and accessible.
The department recently announced it would invest 9 million dollars in seven projects nationwide. One of the awards is based at Yale University in New Haven.
What leads to the adoption and spread of solar energy? Ken Gillingham, professor of environmental and energy economics at Yale, wants to know. He's heading up a team funded by the energy department's SunShot initiative.
"We wanna better understand why people choose to adopt solar energy and then perform a whole set of experiments and trials and pilots to better understand what works and what doesn't," Gillingham said.
The energy department hopes the projects will lower the cost and increase access to solar energy.
"We should expect to see more solar. It's coming. The prices are really dropping and we expect them to keep dropping," Gillingham said.
Gillingham's team is planning to study the role social interactions play in the process of adopting energy. Connecticut doesn't get as much sun as some western states, but it's relatively high electric rates make the option of solar more attractive.
"People seem to care in this state ... that actually makes it a very interesting place and a great test bed," he said.
Some of the research will focus on parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts that have adopted solar programs which lower costs for the whole community.
"So these are already in place. There are several towns in Connecticut. There are 10 towns or so in Massachusetts. So, what we're trying to do is, we're trying to extend these to other towns to figure out what works better than others," Gillingham said.
Gillingham hopes the project will not only identify strategies that help grow solar energy, but the places where it’s successful.