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Follow Germany’s Lead: Streamlined Permitting
Aug08

Follow Germany’s Lead: Streamlined Permitting

Germany, a leader in renewable energy, recently set a world record when it produced 22 GW of power on May 26th, 2012. At that point in time, half of the country’s electricity was generated from solar. Germany’s currently capacity for solar energy reaches about 28 GW and the country aims to reach 66GW by 2030. By the end of 2011, Germany had about 21.6 times more solar power installations per capita than the United States. Why is it that Germany, which has a much lower level of solar radiation than the United States, proportionally dwarfs the U.S. when it comes to solar installations? What is Germany doing differently? In addition to creating rewarding financial incentives for residential solar, such as their well-known Feed-in Tariff, the streamlined permitting process in Germany has given way to widespread adoption of solar energy. Germany has successfully scaled basic design and installation processes, driving down the cost and wait-time associated with residential solar. Moreover, the country has actually eliminated permitting for standard residential solar, which is part of the reason residential solar is so prominent in the country. Standardizing permitting and installation procedures to streamline these processes has helped make Germany a world leader in solar energy. In Germany, it’s not uncommon for a person to contact a solar company and have a system on their roof in less than a week- sometimes in a few days. Meanwhile, in the United States, customers frequently find themselves forking over hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in fees, undergoing a series of unnecessary inspections, and waiting weeks to have standard photovoltaic systems installed on their homes. The United States needs to follow Germany’s lead by streamlining the permitting process for standard residential solar applications. This would make residential solar considerably easier, cheaper, and more convenient for consumers in the United States. #DOE #SolarABCs Permitting in the United States: Though the price of solar products is decreasing and solar adoption is steadily increasing in the United States, the costly, inefficient permitting processes are a burden to the buyer and impede progress of the solar industry at large. Before installing a residential solar system, a permit must be obtained from the local Authority Having Jurisdiction, also known as an AHJ. Typically, permit applications for standard residential solar installations must be submitted to the AHJ in person. SunRun recommends a standard online application for solar permitting, which would drastically simplify the process. It would be much more efficient if all AHJs utilized a standard web-based application to streamline this process. This permitting processes varies too much across geographical location. This inconsistency between AHJs breeds a series of avoidable obstacles...

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define: grid parity

To understand the term grid parity, lets start with an explanation of the “grid”. Similar to the Internet is a network, the grid is the network in which electricity is transferred. The majority of our power is generated from a coal power plant then is transmitted over great distances to be distributed to the buildings in our community via the power lines and underground cables. An increasing trend in the electrical generation and distribution model is now more people are installing grid tie solar electric systems which contributes extra electricity generated by solar panels back into the the grid (the network). You receive a credit for every kWh (kilowatt-hour) you contribute into the system. The problem today is coal is heavily subsidized by the federal government which gives the ability for coal based electrical generation to be cheaper than producing electricity from solar panels. The term grid parity refers to the point at which the electricity generated by your solar panels is equal to or cheaper than grid power. Places with sunnier climates and high electric rates will reach grid parity first. Hawaii and other islands have already reached grid parity since their grid relies on diesel fuel to power the network, the cost for electricity per kWh is much higher on islands. Most of the USA is expected to reach grid parity by 2015, as long as electric rates continue to inflate, rates have been increasing 5% per year, historically. Do you think we will reach grid parity by 2015? Or will it happen...

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