DOE Amps Up Its Solar Game

Two recent moves by DOE position it as a push-pull force for solar adoption.

The Department of Energy made two solar-related announcements this week that will impact residential solar. On May 2, DOE announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) to help software developers, solar companies, and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.

One reason DOE needs to be involved in this part of the sector is because it anticipates growth and, in fact, is spurring that growth itself with the launch of SolSmart,  a community designation program intended to spur the growth of solar power by knocking over hurdles such as complicated permitting, and confusing rules about financing and incentive programs. By some estimates, these snags can result in up to $2,500 being added to the cost of going solar.

Towns and cities that want to pursue the Solsmart designation can get free technical assistance to help make their approval processes more efficient so they’re less of a burden on overworked local governments. That saves money, too, which spurs even more interest in going solar.

The designation comes at at time when some cities and towns, such as San Francisco and Corvallis in California, are using building codes to prompt solar adoption.

Home Innovation Research Labs is a DOE partner for this program and will work on the designation end, while The Solar Foundation is taking the lead on the technical side.

Photo by Chris Kantos