What is the CSI RD&D?

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) has a goal to create 3,000 MW* of new, solar-produced electricity by 2016, moving the state toward a cleaner energy future and helping lower the cost of solar systems for consumers. The CSI statewide budget is $3.3 billion over 10 years, and it has three distinct program components. Read more about the CSI here.

To help achieve the California's goal of creating a vibrant solar industry the state legislature created the Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment Program (RD&D). This program will invest $50 million to fund solar research and demonstration projects that will measurably reduce the cost and accelerate the installation of solar and other distributed technologies that could employ solar for generation, storage, or that could reduce the use of natural gas.

* This includes 1,940 MW from the CSI Program, 360 MW from the New Solar Homes Partnership, and 700 MW from the Publicly Owned Utility Programs.

What are the program goals?

The overall goal of the RD&D program is to help build a sustainable and self-supporting industry for customer-sited solar in California. The research funding should measurably support these basic goals:

  • Move the market from the current retail solar price of $9/watt or about 30 cents/kWh to levels that are comparable to the retail price of electricity.
  • Install increasing volumes of solar distributed generation that build from the current range of 40 megawatts per year to 350 megawatts or more per year.
  • The funds will be used to fill critical needs in the market to facilitate greatly expanded market penetration of cost-effective solar applications in California.

What are the program principles and objectives?

The CSI RD&D Plan adheres to seven key principles:

  1. Improve the economics of solar technologies by reducing technology costs and increasing system performance.
  2. Focus on issues that directly benefit California, and that may not be funded by others.
  3. Fill knowledge gaps to enable successful, wide-scale deployment of solar distributed generation technologies.
  4. Overcome significant barriers to technology adoption.
  5. Take advantage of California’s wealth of data from past, current, and future installations to fulfill the above.
  6. Provide bridge funding to help promising solar technologies transition from a pre-commercial state to full commercial viability.
  7. Support efforts to address the integration of distributed solar power into the grid in order to maximize its value to California ratepayers.

How will the program work?

It is expected the RD&D program will work collaboratively with other major research programs in order to maximize the effect of limited research funds. Early program activities will focus on defining the issues, opportunities and partnerships for solar RD&D in California. The program will release targeted competitive solicitations for research on solar electric production technologies, grid integration and business development and deployment. The public will have a chance to review and comment on the solicitations and plans and extensive outreach will be conducted to widely disseminate the research reports, results and outcomes of the program.

How can I follow the program's progress?

Through this website and by signing up for the CSI monthly E-newsletter list. In addition to the newsletter, this list receives all CSI announcements and updates. Sign up for the CSI list here. You can also email us at Info [at] CalSolarResearch.ca.gov to be added to the CSI RD&D outreach list.

How can my company participate?

The RD&D program is open to all applicants.  To the extent possible, priority will be given to projects or firms located in California.  All projects must have a focus on California-specific issues, be clearly relevant, and provide benefits to California ratepayers.  Interested parties should check the CalSolarResearch.ca.gov website for program solicitation announcements. Parties may also request to be added to the CSI RD&D outreach list by submitting a request to info (at) calsolarresearch.ca.gov.