The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday that will be used to help streamline and standardize the solar energy industry in the Golden State.
CCSE plans to launch efforts that are meant to bring together solar installers, local governments and utility companies and reduce inefficiencies in the industry such as differences in permitting rules between cities. The goal of the program is to reduce the soft costs of solar, which include permitting, design and grid connection expenses that contribute significantly to the overall price of solar installations.
"There remain considerable ongoing barriers to scaling up solar in California, in large part resulting from inconsistencies among jurisdictions for project planning, permitting and utility interconnection," Len Hering, CCSE's Executive Director, said in a press release. "CCSE is proud to support the development of greater consistency and efficiency in the deployment of clean solar energy in California."
Solar panel prices have dropped significantly in the last ten years, and some industry observers believe that they could bottom out eventually. This means that any further reductions in the cost of going solar must come from somewhere else. Experts often point to the fact that neighboring localities will have different processes for obtaining permits, as well as differences in regulations, which make the cost of installations more expensive as contractors must navigate a complex web of rules depending on where they've been hired.
The hope is that CCSE can use its new grant money to iron out these inefficiencies, which would have positive long term effects on the price of solar power and the expansion of renewable energy in general.