Clean Power

Published on December 23rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Permitting — A Nightmare For The US Solar Industry

December 23rd, 2012 by  

 
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 tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



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