The House on October 22 passed a solar technology "road map" bill that authorizes nearly $2.3 billion for solar technology research between 2011 and 2015

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The legislation directs the Department of Energy to establish, within 18 months, a road map to guide federally funded solar research, including photovoltaics, concentrated solar, and solar hot water, heating and cooling.

Technical issues that the road map must explore include energy storage, grid integration, and materials.

Washington House Democrats Brian Baird and Jay Inslee were among the 32 co-sponsors of the legislation, which passed with the votes of 247 Democrats and 63 Republicans.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, (D-AZ), the bill’s sponsor, said the bill would help the U.S. become a leader in manufacturing solar technology. She added that the solar road map is modeled after a semiconductor road map that she said helped that industry avoid research duplication and come to terms on technical standards.

How much potential is there for solar energy in the Northwest? More than people might think. The region’s best potential is in the inland deserts of southeastern Oregon and southern Idaho, but even the cloudy, rainy parts of the region receive half as much solar energy as the California desert.

Washington offers solar production incentives, ranging from 12 cents to $1.08 per kilowatt-hour, depending on project and technology type, and where the equipment was manufactured.

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