KUSA – It’s a big weekend for solar-energy resource awareness in Colorado. 9NEWS spoke with the United States Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu who came to Denver to announce new efforts to drive grid-parity solar – to get the solar costs the same as other forms of energy – within the decade.

This is all a part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to drive solar to cost-competition with other energy sources by 2020.

The SunShot Grand Challenge Summit, being held in Denver this week, is a meeting of the most influential minds in the solar industry. The Summit offers solutions to energy and money-saving measures. Secretary Chu announced nearly $8 million in total to nine small businesses across the country to lower soft costs which can amount to almost half the cost of residential solar systems.

“As President Obama has repeatedly said, we need an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that deploys every available source of American energy, driving job creation, energy innovation and manufacturing leadership in our country,” Secretary Chu said. “Through the SunShot Initiative, we’re tackling the technological, scientific and market barriers facing America’s solar industry to make sure solar power continues to play an important role in our diverse energy mix. The investments in American start-ups and the new competition announced [Thursday] further our efforts to seize on the tremendous global market for clean energy technologies, representing hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide.”

What is the Colorado connection? The two local projects selected include the Boulder company “concept3d” ($1,275,790), who provides content and web services to enhance Google Maps, Google Earth and the web. As well as Parker’s Simply Civic ($499,510) whose mission is to streamline processes and increase the adoption of renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects. Through the Energy Department’s SunShot Incubator program, these companies are developing transformative solutions to streamline solar-installation processes such as financing, permitting and inspection. In total, Colorado companies were awarded $1.8 million in SunShot startup investments to unleash cost-competitive solar energy.

Erica Cobb contributed to this report.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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