The U.S. Department of Energy DOE) has announced it is providing $27 million in funding aimed at reducing the cost of solar energy projects. The funds are directed at the “non-hardware” related parts of getting a solar energy system installed, including siting, permitting and grid connection-factors the DOE says can represent up to 40 percent of the total cost of the solar energy system.
The funds will be administered through the DOE’s SunShot program, which is focused on reducing the cost of solar energy systems through various technology-related efforts and expanding solar energy use in the U.S. This round of funding will be split up for two new programs the DOE has created in order to modernize permitting systems and otherwise take a big chunk of red tape out of the process involved in getting a solar energy system installed.
The DOE likes its almost game-show-like challenges and it is employing that approach again. Up to $12.5 million will go toward the newly announced “Rooftop Solar Challenge” which aims to get local and regional government teams competing for funds to help eliminate administrative barriers to residential and small commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar installations. The DOE will be looking for teams to standardize permitting processes, update planning and zoning codes and increase access to financing, among other efforts.
Up to $15 million will be made available over the next three years to local government projects in four key areas. The DOE wants to see updated codes and standard relating to solar installations, modernized software and database systems to make project siting and applications easier and faster (perhaps by making applications available online) and utility solutions that make solar energy grid integration and metering more efficient.
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