U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ bipartisan legislation to boost federal research for the development of solar energy technology passed the House yesterday with strong support from the business community.
“Our ability to harness the power of the sun and put it to work for us depends on technology,” the Arizona lawmaker said after this afternoon’s vote. “Improving this technology means increasing the amazing potential of solar energy to meeting our energy needs. This is what my bill is about. It will advance solar research and help move critical new technologies out of the laboratories and into our homes and businesses.”
The Solar Technology Roadmap Act was approved by the House in a 310-to-106 vote – 247 Democrats and 63 Republicans.
“Democrats and Republicans alike recognize the need to develop American sources of energy,” Giffords said. “We know that sending more than $400 billion a year overseas to buy foreign energy weakens our economy, strengthens our enemies and undermines our national security. Tapping our own energy resources like solar represents an opportunity that we cannot afford to pass up.”
The Solar Technology Roadmap Act will increase solar funding to the U.S. Department of Energy and help focus research and development funding through a plan created by a private/public committee. The roadmap provision is modeled on the successful National (now International) Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which has been instrumental in helping semiconductor technology advance rapidly over the past two decades.
Giffords’ legislation would also require the U.S. Department of Energy to appoint a group of experts to create a long-term plan to guide solar energy research and its transition into commercial uses. The group would identify research and development that needs to occur to help improve the performance and reliability of solar technologies, decrease costs, reduce water use and mitigate any negative environmental impacts. It would be subject to a comprehensive revision every three years to keep it current and authorizes $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years.