Texas Southern University and a consortium of 13 other eastern and southern universities are competing for a U.S. Department of Energy grant that will help fund solar power projects for low income households.
The Department of Energy has set aside $5 million for the competition, although Texas Southern and the group of universities will be competing for $1 million.
While solar energy has been growing rapidly in the U.S., the Department of Energy estimates that about half of American households do not have roofs that are ready for solar. Before solar panels can be installed, roofs have to be in good condition. Cost has also been a major barrier to the installation of residential solar panels, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Over the next 18 months, Texas Southern will work with the other universities to develop business plans for community solar projects in Houston. The consortium will also come up with plans to create job training for solar installation, a critical piece of the competition due to the growth in solar jobs in the U.S. Two percent of job growth in 2016 was in the solar industry, according to the Solar Foundation,