Addressing Solar Deployment Costs with Transatlantic Perspectives: PV Rollout 2012

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Ramamoorthy Ramesh, manager of the US Department of Energy’s new SunShot Initiative and a UC Berkeley materials scientist, recently discussed the DOE’s goals of reducing the costs of solar photovoltaic installations by 75% over the next decade. In a recent New York Times interview, Ramesh cited the Department’s findings on the “soft costs” of solar installations:

The department estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the total cost of owning and operating a rooftop solar power system today is administrative or “soft” costs, red-tape impediments like permitting, zoning, metering, financing and arranging a grid connection. – New York Times Green Blog

Solar deployment costs are a major area of focus for industry as well. In addition to the administrative costs surrounding system installation, upstream solar product development and innovation also have an impact on downstream system costs. However, the interplay between these “hard” and “soft” costs often goes unexamined, and costs to system owners remain relatively high. While solar PV costs have been steadily declining over time—particularly in states and countries with renewable portfolio standards and incentives for system owners—many feel that the time has come to accelerate the rapid, widespread, and low-cost deployment of solar.

In February, Ramesh and other solar leaders from the US and Europe will convene in Boston to discuss ways of overcoming the technical, political, and economic hurdles facing solar photovoltaic deployment on both sides of the Atlantic. The second PV Rollout Conference on Feb. 9 & 10, 2012, brings together solar policymakers, product researchers and developers, and system integrators to share success stories and lessons learned in order to address the key areas of development needed for large-scale deployment. As the keynote speaker, Ramesh will discuss the SunShot Initiative’s anticipated role in lowering solar deployment costs.

Other topics include a session on grid integration chaired by Juris Kalejs; a risk management and financing session chaired by David Williams of CleanPath Ventures; as well as discussions on PV markets, module technology, inverters, and power plants. There will also be a pre-conference workshop on PV module durability testing with speakers Claudio Ferrara of Fraunhofer ISE, Christian Hoepfner of Fraunhofer CSE, and Martin Plass of CFV Solar Test Laboratory. The conference, produced by OTTI, is cochaired by Fraunhofer ISE Director Eicke Weber and Juris Kalejs, CTO of American Capital Energy, with support from advisory council members including NREL, University of Chicago, RIT, EPRI, EPIA, Fraunhofer CSE, and others. More information and registration details are available in the conference program.

About author
I'm CSE's former Director of Marketing and Communications. During my time at the Center, I launched the Cleantech Notes blog.
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