Cutting Red Tape to Make Installing Solar Faster, Cheaper and Easier

The Rocky Mountain Institute is partnering with leading Colorado communities to address the contracting, permitting and installation costs of solar photovoltaic panels.
From the Rocky Mountain Institute written by Ben Holland
October 2, 2012

More than half of the cost of solar power comes from contracting, permitting and installing the solar PV system.
Photo by Fotolia/Elenathewise


Content Tools

Related Content

6 Common Mistakes Solar PV Installers Make

Comly Wilson, Associate with CleanEdison, a solar installation training provider, offers her tips to...

Inspiration for Solar Projects

Scott Davis’ “Solar Projects, Big and Small” video offers inspiration for both solar energy enthusia...

San Frantastic

After a five month struggle, the San Francisco board of supervisors approved a program called GoSola...

Modern Homesteading In The Mountains On A Blustery Day

What we do inside on a blustery day outside.

This article is posted with permission from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

For the past few years, the costs of solar photovoltaic panels and hardware have seen significant declines, and that’s expected to continue. Great news for fans of solar!

Unfortunately, the remaining costs — those attributed to contracting, permitting, and installing a system — remain prohibitively high. Unless those costs fall, solar may struggle to reach mass adoption. Rocky Mountain Institute, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association and other partners are working directly with leading communities in Colorado to tackle this challenge — making solar easier and less expensive for everyone to participate.

A key barrier to affordable solar power, administrative processes such as permitting and inspections can be unnecessarily costly and time consuming. In many parts of the country, these costs and all other combined “soft costs” of rooftop solar PV can account for over half the total installed costs.

In Germany, the cost of solar is much cheaper than in the United States. Subsidies have long been credited for these low costs, but a recent report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicates that lower soft costs are not just a result of aggressive federal-level policy support. In reality, Germany’s low costs are the product of a mature market for solar and they point to a direction of where we need to go.

To add context, the German market has 301 MW of solar installed per million people, compared to 14 MW of installed solar per million people in the U.S. By streamlining processes that create bottlenecks in the solar installation process, communities in the U.S. can help reduce costs that are passed on to consumers, thereby making the technology cheaper and easier to install.

Making that happen will require community leaders to convene the right people around the same table, Solar Images 2 to explore opportunities to streamline the process while saving time and money. But each jurisdiction is different in some way. Building departments, which are typically responsible for approving solar permits, can have often unpredictable, unique requirements.

To help standardize these processes, RMI recently partnered with COSEIA to launch the Solar Friendly Communities program.

Last week—as part of Solar Friendly Communities — RMI and COSEIA hosted three workshops, in which we presented a new 12-step roadmap to streamline permitting and inspections, and reduce other costs associated with administrative processes. Each step is assigned a point value, so Colorado communities can determine their level of “friendliness” and measure their progress against other communities. By offering this clear template and instilling some healthy competition, we hope to encourage these communities create favorable environments for rooftop solar.

Going forward, RMI and COSEIA will work with stakeholders to establish “Solar Friendly Communities” throughout Colorado. In doing so, we aim to help Colorado become a leading market for solar and, over time, demonstrate a scalable model that other regions can adopt.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.