Back in July I wrote about ways to lower the cost of rooftop solar. One of the major pain points is the permitting process, where installers have to deal with permits, paperwork and lengthy wait times from as many as five different entities.
One of the most startling figures is the fact that average cost of a 4 KW rooftop solar system in the US is about $20,000 while in Germany, it’s $8,000. At $8,000, it really starts to make sense just to install a solar system and forget about paying your utility bill, presuming installers figure out a way to pair a system with batter storage (SolarCity is working on that problem). It’s just such a massive difference, and a major reason is the permitting is very easy in Germany, often taking as little as ten days from starting installation to permitted and grid connected system.
GigaOM contributor and solar expert Ucilia Wang weighed in yesterday, reporting on a survey of solar installers conducted by solar financing startup Clean Power Finance. The bad news from the survey is that one in three installers say they’ve avoided expanding their businesses to new regions because those regions are difficult and expensive to obtain permits in.
Electronic submission of forms, dealing with one agency rather than five, and lower permit costs top the wish list from installers. I’m not expecting Santa to offer up much on those fronts this Christmas, but all it takes is one visionary municipality to show the way toward efficient and cheaper permitting. You reading San Diego or Sacramento, my progressive, clean power friends?