Soft Costs in US PV markets


Kristen Ardani of the National Renewable Energy Labs studies soft costs in US PV markets, and she recently joined us for a webinar to present her findings, in advance of a full report (to come in a few weeks). A pdf of the presentation is here (pdf) or watch the full recording in all its glory.

Why are soft costs so important? Because these are areas where local policy makers can make a real difference in bringing down the total cost of installed systems. Solar modules trade on a global market (absent trade wars), and beyond contributing to total demand, there’s not a lot a local policymaker can do to affect module prices.

For example: labor for permitting, inspection, and interconnection adds about $0.22/W, on average, to the total cost of an installed solar system. And in some cases, as high at $.50/W. In contrast, similar costs are about $0.03 in Germany (see this report from LBNL). This is something that’s directly under local policymaker’s control.

We are looking hard at these finding to help guide our future activities here at Vote Solar…stay tuned for some new announcements soon.

In the mean time, NREL needs help collecting data for future editions of this analysis. They are asking solar companies to fill out surveys…residential here, and commercial here. It’s important — please help them out.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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