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Clean Power solar permitting

Published on December 23rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Permitting — A Nightmare For The US Solar Industry



 
Solar permitting is a b**** in the US. We’ve known that for awhile, but a new report on the matter from Clean Power Finance confirms that. The report (PDF), supported by the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, comes to the following key findings:

  • Permitting processes vary widely among locales and usually involve 2 distinct agencies (and up to 5 agencies), each with different processes.
  • More than 1 in 3 installers avoid selling an average of 3.5 jurisdictions because of associated permitting difficulties.
  • AHJs require, on average, nearly 8 work weeks to complete their tasks. The staff time of the installer, however, averages just 14.25 hours.
  • There are likely significant opportunities for installers to reduce costs by improving processes around customer acquisitions and operations.

The fact that a ton of installers simply avoid going into certain jurisdictions because of their horrible permitting processes is concerning.

We’ve discussed the huge difference between the cost of going solar in the US vs in Germany a number of times. Additionally, a number of studies have shown that the difference isn’t due to hardware costs but to “soft costs” such as permitting costs, customer acquisition costs, labor costs, and overhead. Here are a couple charts on the matter (also included in “Renewable Energy Big Pic: Part 2“):

Bottom line: we really need to get our permitting costs down, and simplify permitting processes across the nation, as well as addressing other solar power soft costs.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



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