The SolarAPP + tool was developed by the National Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy (DOE). So far, SolarAPP + has been tested in four communities in California and Arizona, and the results have been positive. The tool was successful in reducing permit review times from an average of 20 days to zero in Tuscon.Obtaining approvals for residential solar installations typically takes about a week or more, and the costs for these applications could represent about a third of the overall installation costs. The DOE said SolarAPP + could speed up this process by streamlining applications, automating some approvals, and standardizing requirements.
Becca Jones-Albertus, director of DOE’s office of solar energy technologies, said in an interview with Reuters that obtaining permits from local building departments tends to become a problem for solar companies. As a result, about a third of solar installations take more than two weeks to process permits. These delays are not in line with the Biden administration’s plans, which include the widespread use of durable solutions.
The Biden administration aims to decarbonize the U.S. electricity grid by 2035 as part of the country’s initiatives to tackle climate change. To successfully achieve this goal, the DOE noted that solar installations need to be completed about five times faster than their current rate. SolarAPP + could help speed up the solar installation process.
Elon Musk recently said that the licensing process for solar installations is one of the challenges Tesla Energy has faced in recent years. As part of his cross-examination earlier this week in his SolarCity case, Musk explained that the U.S. residential solar market was hit hard last year by the shutdown of government licensing offices due to the pandemic. If the United States had then adopted a service like SolarAPP +, more residential solar installations could have been completed last year.
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