DOE awards Calif. center $1.3m to help cut rooftop solar costs

November 06, 2013 01:45 PM Eastern Standard Time

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative announced today the selection of the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) to lead a $1.3 million project aimed at streamlining and standardizing solar energy installations for residential and small commercial uses throughout California.

Funding for the two-year project comes from the DOE’s SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II, the second round of a nationwide program to spur solar power deployment by making it easier, faster and cheaper to finance and install solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems. As part of the first round of the Rooftop Solar Challenge, CCSE led a Southern California team of energy experts that developed guidelines for such improvements in 11 jurisdictions in the region during the past two years.

The San Diego-based CCSE will be working on the project in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and Optony Inc., a solar services company based in Santa Clara, Calif. They are one of eight teams nationwide assisting in this effort to accelerate solar power deployment and to make solar energy costs competitive with other forms of energy by 2020.

The team will engage with municipalities, utilities, financial institutions, contractors and other solar industry stakeholders in major metropolitan areas of California to reduce the nonhardware or “soft” costs of solar installations. Soft costs, such as permitting, grid connection, installation, design and maintenance, currently account for up to 60 percent of the total installed cost of rooftop PV systems, according to the DOE.

“There remain considerable ongoing barriers to scaling up solar in California, in large part resulting from inconsistencies among jurisdictions for project planning, permitting and utility interconnection,” said CCSE Executive Director Len Hering, RADM, USN (ret). “CCSE is proud to support the development of greater consistency and efficiency in the deployment of clean solar energy in California.”

Among the goals of the project are to create standardized permitting processes for solar PV installations, develop an online solar interconnection portal, expand informational resources on solar financing and create a recognition program for local governments that reach their target solar energy goals. The project team also will produce a range of reference guides about policies, procedures, financing and best practices related to solar.

CCSE administers regional and statewide programs in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation and promotes sustainability education and outreach. The center administers the California Solar Initiative in the San Diego Gas & Electric service territory, providing rebates for residential and commercial solar PV, solar water heating systems and other solar thermal applications. For information, visit www.energycenter.org.

About the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE)

CCSE is a not-for-profit organization that accelerates the transition to a sustainable world powered by clean energy. We help consumers, businesses, governments and others adopt energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation technologies. CCSE is headquartered in San Diego and operates regional offices in Oakland and Los Angeles. Learn more at www.energycenter.org.

About U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative

The DOE SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, academia and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at www.energy.gov/sunshot andwww.eere.energy.gov/solarchallenge.