Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

4 Ways to Lower Cost of Going Solar

Business

For each year the industry continues without universal standards, powering every U.S. home and business with solar energy becomes more difficult.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on Monday agreed the industry needed to "double down" on a unified effort to lower the cost of residential and small commercial installations. The two organizations issued the Roadmap to 2020 report less than two months ago, but said Monday that some of its short-term goals might not be attainable if changes don't take place. That became crystal clear after meeting with more than 70 solar developers, equipment manufacturers, researchers, installers and government staff at RMI and NREL’s Soft Cost Impact Forum in Chicago, IL.

"As seen below, the summary roadmap charts scream in crimson red about the costs of installation labor," RMI principal Dan Seif and senior associate Jesse Morris wrote in an update about the roadmap. " It’s highly uncertain that installation costs in the U.S. can reach low enough levels to realize [U.S. Department of Energy] SunShot targets by 2020, and the cost trajectory looks like it will hit some pretty rough waters in just three years."

Graphic credit: Rocky Mountain Institute and National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The two organizations took the information from those breakout sessions to develop four suggestions for lowering the cost of going solar:

Develop an agency to ensure photovoltaic standards

  • "If you need a new alternator for a 2005 Toyota Tacoma, there’s a standard guidebook for the flat rate of that part anywhere for auto mechanics and their customers," Seif and Morris write, but that's not the case in the solar industry. The industry would benefit from establishing a body responsible for managing installation process, hardware and bidding standards. Construction estimator RS Means is an example of what's needed, according to Seif and Morris.
  • A defined presentation method for solar integrators—eliminating reworks and specialized training for each new integrator or integrator program—could lead to fewer administrative costs.
  • Establishing a common bidding system would make it easier to find quality installers and savings opportunities while also revealing corner cutters.

 Create the solar industry's version of Wikipedia

  • Seif and Morris describe this idea as "a business-to-business, crowd-sourced, user-certified information web portal focused on installer input for sharing best practices and product experiences, and for providing consolidated feedback to PV module and hardware manufacturers."
  • Shared practices on this site could help with feedback for specific areas and utilities, as well as regional permitting, inspection and interconnection challenges.
  • "The true cost savings of various equipment and systems and the ability to best leverage efficiencies from these products with smart work practices are not broadly understood past the salesperson’s claims," according to the RMI. "This knowledge is held within the industry, slowing the pace of cost reductions."

Create a national solar database

  • Jurisdictional requirements that drive costs up would be clearly stated and determined by analyzing the installer, project address, electrical configuration, racking system and more.
  • "Smart installers would quickly try to determine what clusters of low-priced system or system elements can be implemented in their local markets," the RMI staff members wrote.

Define what solar-ready means through a standards campaign

  • "Perhaps we could learn a little from the LEED certification process (or maybe integrate with it) and make these designations certifiable, and possibly also tiered," RMI suggests. "As we’ve seen from LEED and other top green building standards, getting certified is a big deal to many builders and investors."
  • A strong “solar ready” standard would better inform home buyers what they’re getting, also potentially helping the real estate market because a cheap, future solar installation would be a selling point for an environmentally conscious consumer.
  • A definition for "solar-ready" could inspire future regulators to create and pass new, smarter policies around it.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A woman walks to her train in Grand Central Terminal as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on March 27. John Lamparski / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
polaristest / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Spinach is a true nutritional powerhouse, as it's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jeff Turrentine

From day to day, our public health infrastructure — the people and systems we've put in place to keep populations, as opposed to individuals, healthy — largely goes unnoticed. That's because when it's working well, its success takes the form of utter normalcy.

Read More Show Less
Spring Break vs. COVID19: The Real Impact of Ignoring Social Distancing

By Eoin Higgins

A viral video showing cell phone data collected by location accuracy company X-Mode from spring break partiers potentially spreading the coronavirus around the U.S. has brought up questions of digital privacy even as it shows convincingly the importance of staying home to defeat the disease.

Read More Show Less