Even as residential solar power rapidly approaches grid parity in a number of big cities across the US, and becomes not just another fringe environmental choice, but a very rewarding financial investment as well, one of the barriers to wide adoption continues to be the slow and cumbersome process of actually getting from permit to plug-in.
Although going solar is common enough in some regions, with the solar permitting and inspection process there being fairly straightforward, there are still many places in which the solar permit-to-plug-in times are long, and the process can be not only frustrating, but may also add to the costs of homeowners as well.
To address the issue, a newly launched initiative from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot program aims to come up with solutions to reducing the time required to go from getting a permit to plugging in to a solar PV system to just 7 days.
“Going solar doesn’t have to be a difficult and time-intensive process. If our country can get three men to the moon and back in seven days, it’s entirely possible to bring 7-Day Solar to everyone in the United States.” – Minh Le, Director, Solar Energy Technologies Office
The appropriately named SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar, which is part of the DOE’s focus on reducing what are called soft costs in the solar sector, is challenging teams to drastically reduce the times necessary for installing both small solar systems (up to 100 kW) and larger ones (up to 1 MW).
According to a post on the DOE site, “if every solar project deployed in the U.S. this year was forced to wait one extra day before connecting to the grid, it would result in a loss of $4 million worth of electricity,” and that by reducing long wait times and creating certainty and increased efficiency in the process, more solar can come online, sooner.
The SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar is looking for collaboration and innovation from not just solar companies, but also utilities, local governments, and communities, and is offering a total of $10 million in cash prizes, as well as seed funding for up to 20 teams to set up and run their system during the 18-month performance period.
March 4, 2015
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