The Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) Campaign will create a low-cost, seamless process for rooftop solar and solar+storage installations, while enhancing safety and reliability. This will make solar energy more affordable and accessible for homeowners and businesses.
Solar energy is now mainstream across the United States, with over 2 million U.S. solar customers. However, solar in the U.S. is a long way from realizing its full potential. Direct and indirect costs of permitting, inspection and interconnection add about $7,000 ($1.00 per watt) to the cost of a typical residential solar energy system. That is about the same as the value of the 30% federal investment tax credit for solar, which is set to begin phasing out at the end of 2019.
A patchwork of permitting and interconnection processes create installation and activation delays, increase cancellations and impose costs on solar installations that are far higher than in other mature solar markets.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was awarded new funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and deploy the SolarAPP software platform, with the goal to dramatically reduce the time and cost of the permitting application review and approval process. Learn more.
Goals of SolarAPP
The SolarAPP campaign seeks to:
- Develop and provide free and simple online permitting tools for local governments.
- Help local governments provide instantaneous permitting and innovative inspections for qualifying solar projects.
Achieving these objectives would help millions of Americans choose affordable solar and storage for their homes and businesses over the next five years. Local governments will also benefit from added revenues from increased adoption.
The SolarAPP Campaign’s activities will be coordinated by The Solar Foundation, in collaboration with industry partners such as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other implementing supporters, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and many other solar companies, industry groups, and nonprofit organizations.
View the Slides from a Webinar on SolarAPP
The SolarAPP Campaign seeks a fundamental reshaping of solar permitting at the federal, state and local levels. This will allow most routine rooftop solar projects to receive instantaneous approval and efficient inspections, while enhancing safety. To make this possible, the SolarAPP Campaign will:
- Facilitate regional collaboratives for local governments, solar companies, and policymakers to discuss the direction of this campaign and adoption of its products.
- Develop a simple, standardized, and free online application portal with and for local governments that will enable qualifying solar installers to register their systems and receive immediate approval from local governments to proceed with install.
- Incorporate an inspection score tracking system into our online permitting portal that will enable virtual inspections, as well as reduced inspections or audits for top installers.
- Partner with certification and code bodies to improve and centralize a national certified equipment list while also providing local governments and jurisdictions with simple explanations of these certifications via the online portal.
- Create safety training(s) and new best practices for permitting and interconnection solar and solar with battery storage.
The SolarAPP campaign expects to achieve the following results by 2025:
- Make solar energy more affordable and accessible for homeowners and businesses at a wide range of income levels.
- Save a typical solar consumer more than $7,000 in red tape tied to installation costs.
- Help local governments and jurisdictions operate more effectively and efficiently without compromising safety or quality of solar systems.
- Save taxpayer money by reducing local government staff time and costs associated with permit review and inspections at the local level.
- Open new market opportunities for solar installers, manufacturers, developers, owners, and operators, resulting in more American jobs.
Achieving the SolarAPP vision will require sustained commitments from policy makers, the solar industry, and proponents of solar energy and defenders of the freedom of Americans to choose how they meet their energy needs. For more information on how you can support this effort, contact:
Richard Lawrence, Program Director at The Solar Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org), or
Justin Baca, Vice President of Markets and Research at Solar Energy Industries Association (email@example.com).