President Carter is expected to name a high-level administration panel to press the development of solar energy, according to administration sources.
Formation of the interagency committee to be headed by Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger will be announced by the White House before the May 3 national Sun Day celebration sponsored by environmental groups and solar advocates, sources said.
The formal domestic policy review of the government's solar programs is expected to relieve some of the mounting political fire from critics who maintain there is a widening split between what the White House says and what the Energy Department has done to boost solar energy.
Despite President Carter's public statements in support of solar energy and symbolic gestures such as reviewing the inaugural parade in a solar-heated enclosure, solar advocates in Congress and elsewhere have criticized Schlesinger for providing scant funding for government-sponsored solar research and development.
DOE's budget request for fiscal 1979 asked Congress to provide $10 million less for solar energy programs than had been included in last year's budget inherited largely from the Ford administration.
A major purpose of the Solar Policy Coordinating Committee, according to a proposal sent to Carter' top domestic adviser, Stuart Eizenstat, would be to weight the adequacy of DOE's current budget plans and programs.
Since the DOE budget was sent to Congress, the House Science and Technology Committee has increased DOE's solar budget authorization request by $134.7 million to a total of $476.1 million.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has yet to complete its budget deliberations, but committee members say they expect the panel headed by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) to increse solar research and development spending by a similar amount.
When Carter's energy budget was sent to the Congress earlier this year, Denis Hayes, of Worldwatch Institute and founder of Sun Day, was critical of Schlesinger's solar budget request, saying it was "not even the financial equivalent of one small weapons system."
Schlesinger since has publicly endorsed Sun Day and called on DOE's 20,000 employes to back the May 3 event.
An admininstration source said if Carter does not name the interagency solar committee, "It will result in a hard look at the solar program, and bring the administration together on what sort of solar effort we should have."
According to an internal memorandum to Eizenstat from Schlesinger and Charles Warren, head of the Council on Environmental Quality, the committee would "provide a bais for responding to the many proposals that will be pressed in Congress and elsewhere in the months ahead." The memo also argues that the National Energy Plan "did not address solar energy authoritatively because of other priority objectives."
Last week CEQ released a 52-page report on the results of an eight-month study on solar energy, saying the United States could obtain up to a quarter of its energy from the sun by the end of the century.
The proposal by Schlesinger and Warren calls for a five-month study beginning in May for final consideration by Carter.
Sources say the study also would help shape the energy research and development budget process and identify areas where solar research could result in earlier and wider application of solar technology.
DOE officials including Schlesinger have explained the reductions in solar funding in this years budget by saying a larger request was unnecessary because specific solar heating and cooling demonstration projects had been completed.
But Congress, mindful of rising public support for solar energy and election year politics, has come forth with its own handful of pet solar projects.