The Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot programme has awarded the US Rooftop Solar Challenge US$12 million to help promote solar development by cutting the amount of red tape in the industry.
In the US there are more than 18,000 local jurisdictions with their own individual PV permitting requirements, land use codes and zoning ordinances. The Rooftop Solar Challenge funding will support 22 regional teams charged with streamlining and standardizing permitting, zoning, metering and connection, and reducing barriers and lower costs for small-scale rooftop systems with improved financial options.
According to the DOE, non-hardware costs, such as permitting and maintenance, and not PV technology, lie behind the sector’s high start-up costs; these ‘soft’ costs account for 40% of the total cost of US rooftop installations, while local permitting and inspection processes contribute around US$0.50 per W, or US$2,500 to each residential installation.
“Through this competition, the Energy Department is helping to unleash America’s solar potential by investing in projects that will make it faster, easier, and cheaper to finance and deploy solar power in communities across the country,” US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said at the funding announcement. “These awards will reduce the cost homeowners and businesses pay to install solar energy systems, while at the same time saving money and time for local governments faced with tight budgets.”