The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative’s goal is to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Clean Power Finance is working on projects supported by three SunShot Initiative grants aimed at reducing the soft costs of solar. The projects will support the growth of our network, our channel partners’ businesses and the solar industry as a whole.
Simplifying Solar Permitting
SolarPermit.org hosts the National Solar Permitting Database, a free, online database of information related to solar permitting requirements of cities and counties across the country. The project’s goal is to minimize the time and resources required to complete a solar permit, which can add significant costs and delays for solar installers.
Developed by Clean Power Finance and supported by a DOE grant, SolarPermit.org organizes and simplifies solar permitting processes by compiling the information in a single location. The community-based platform allows database users to keep the information up-to-date and relevant.
Use the Database
In June 2013, we launched a redesigned site with more data and new features to help solar installers stay on top of current permitting requirements. The new site has some key data for 80% of the most popular jurisdictions (those with 200 or more residential solar installations a year). Visit the site to search for permitting requirements and contribute what you know.
Streamlining O&M Processes
We are currently developing an online marketplace for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services on installed residential solar systems. The marketplace will allow system owners, particularly third-party financiers, to contract with O&M service providers. By simplifying long-term O&M management, the marketplace will reduce costs, drive scale and encourage continued investment in the residential solar industry.
This project is supported by a DOE grant and we expect to complete work in the second half of 2013.
Understanding Why Homeowners Go Solar
Clean Power Finance is working with The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a project for the Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies (SEEDS) program. The project addresses one of the biggest solar soft costs — customer acquisition. The project seeks to identify what factors drive or impede consumer adoption of solar and to incorporate its findings into pilot consumer marketing programs. The end goal is to accelerate the adoption of residential solar.
NREL is leading the development of an analytical model that explains customer motivations. Economists, behavioral scientists and data experts from top research institutions are collaborating on the project. Using Big Data analysis, researchers will examine a number of consumer behaviors, including how social networks and social media can influence buyer decisions. Clean Power Finance, in its capacity as the project’s solar industry expert, will advise on the research, pilot program and distribution of findings.
Connecting Solar Businesses
As the solar industry matures, more firms are specializing in either marketing and sales or installation and operations. By focusing on what they do well, these companies are able to realize efficiencies in the costs of customer acquisition and installation. Clean Power Finance is building tools to allow these firms to work together to sell and install solar, with each focusing on its core competencies. The result has been a reduction of installed costs by over 10% and installation time by over 25%.
This project is supported by a DOE grant and we expect to complete work in 2014.