LBJ Professor Receives $1.25 Million Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

November 3, 2016 (AUSTIN, Texas) – The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative awarded LBJ Professor Varun Rai $1.25 million to examine the motivations and factors that influence the technology adoption process to help boost state solar strategies and solar adoption research. This award comes on the heels of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management’s (APPAM) David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, which Rai received in September for his contributions to the field of public policy analysis and management.

The SunShot project, which is part of SunShot’s Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies (SEEDS) program, looks at the size and mechanism of knowledge spillovers in the solar industry, specifically how best practices related to solar soft cost issues are transferred.

“The objective of this project is to inform policy-makers’ and companies’ decisions related to solar photovoltaics (PV), commonly referred to as solar panels, by analyzing the solar knowledge ecosystem and how knowledge spillovers between various actors contribute to cost reductions,” Rai said. “To achieve that, this project combines basic social science theory and substantive knowledge of the solar industry to inform policy and firm-level decisions that will affect future PV costs and deployment across the U.S.”

“Varun, an exemplar of interdisciplinary work, is at the cutting edge of the next generation of thinkers shaping innovative public policies,” said Angela Evans, Dean of the LBJ School. “Through his work, Varun is leading policy innovation that will make an impact on solar deployment not only in our community, but also across Texas and the United States. On behalf of the LBJ School, I congratulate Varun on this prestigious grant.”

Rai is one of nine SEEDS awardees, and received the second highest award amount.  The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovations to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Department of Energy supports efforts by private companies, universities and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity. Learn more at