DOE challenges local governments to cut red tape for rooftop solar
By: SGN Staff
DOE wants cities and counties to cut the upfront costs and permitting and related administrative paperwork needed to get rooftop solar projects approved. The Rooftop Solar Challenge involves cities and counties teaming up with other local governments, utilities and other stakeholders to come up with plans for how they will meet the goals defined in the challenge.
Participating teams will compete in four important areas: standardizing permitting processes, updating planning and zoning codes, improving standards for connecting to the grid and increasing financing access. The teams will compete for DOE funds to help them accomplish the improvements set out in their streamlining plans.
DOE says as much as 40% of a solar energy project is the result of balance of system costs, including the investment needed to pay for siting, permitting, and installing the project and connecting it to the electric grid.
Solar panels on the roof of the DOE Forrestal Building in Washington, D.C.
The outcome, the agency says, is cost savings for businesses and homeowners installing rooftop solar systems as well as savings of time and money for local governments already juggling tight budgets.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge is funded with $12.5 million as part of DOE's Sunshot Initiative, which intends to make solar energy competitive by reducing the total installed cost of solar energy systems by 75% before the end of the decade.
In related news...
DOE also recently announced the offer of $150 million in conditional loan guarantees to 1366 Technologies, Inc. for development of what could be a game changer in the solar manufacturing process. The project will be able to produce about 700 to 1,000 megawatts of silicon-based wafers annually by using an innovative process called Direct Wafer, which could cut manufacturing costs of the wafers by approximately half.
The innovative process requires 90% less energy and the result is an industry-standard product that any typical multicrystalline cell maker can use. Original project development was supported with $4 million from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy-Energy program and another $3 million from its Solar Energy Technology Program.
Photo courtesy of DOE
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