The newest push by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Program is to deal with the soft costs of distributed solar. SunShot’s aim is to bring the price of solar — unsubsidized — to parity with the most affordable sources of grid electricity supply. To do that, DOE wants to cut the total installed cost of a photovoltaic (PV) system to $1 per watt, or about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
GTM Research’s most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight report put the average U.S. installed price at $5.89 per watt. The most recent German installed solar system price, GTM Editor-in-Chief Eric Wesoff recently noted, was $2.24 per watt peak. If module and inverter prices are assumed to be about the same in both countries, that big difference must be in the soft costs of installing a system.
Genability says its software can help reduce those soft costs. Apparently, the DOE sees promise — it recently awarded the San Francisco-based startup a grant for its platform to help installers provide accurate bids in less time, optimize the system size and tariff, and make collaboration and communication between soft cost providers easier.
“Soft costs, according to the DOE,” explained Genability Founder and CEO Jason Riley, “include customer acquisition and installer overhead, financing and contracting, permitting, inspection, and interconnection, and installation and performance.”