U.S. House Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) introduced this week the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which is now on its way to the full House after achieving commendable bipartisan support after short deliberation in the Science and Technology Committee. Giffords’ bill would designate the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the leading organization for developing a strategic plan to direct solar energy research and its deployment into the commercial sector. The legislation would also allocate $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years, which is a far cry from the pro-oil Bush administration that pillaged funding for renewables.
The DOE roadmap assessment team created by the bill would identify research and development that needs to occur to help improve the performance and robustness of solar technologies, decrease cost, and mitigate any negative environmental impacts for enhanced sustainability. Interestingly enough, the bill will undergo a full-scale review every three years so that it is updated based on new developments in the industry.
The Solar Roadmap Act is designed to incorporate a wide variety of stakeholders in the solar community and cross-cut various departments to create a comprehensive plan to guide funding for the research necessary to propel the U.S. toward leading the global solar industry. Giffords’ bill is another critical component of the Obama administration’s high priority energy reform initiative, which also includes the renewable energy provisions in climate change legislation and the Recovery Act. These efforts are critical so that the country not only converts to clean energy sources but also manufactures the components which supply the industry.
Giffords’ Solar Roadmap bill would also identify specific zones for renewable energy based on environmental, wildlife, and conservation metrics, and to prioritize application processing for solar development within them in order to meet the federal Recovery Act’s deadline of construction by 2010. Furthermore, the bill is aimed at generating collaboration between federal and state agencies for designating transmission line corridors.