RMI Announces Solar Research Project

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is launching a Simple BoS project, or Balance of Systems, in partnership with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), to explore the cost divide between the U.S. and Germany for residential solar photovoltaic systems. BoS costs now account for more than 60 percent of the price of U.S. rooftop PV systems, according to RMI, yet such costs are 75 percent lower in Germany, who is the solar PV global leader.

gI_87078_solarpanelinstallerRMI sees reducing BoS costs—all the related solar energy system costs besides the panels themselves including permitting, financing, installation, and inspection—as a critical pathway to affordable PV and widespread solar adoption. RMI and GTRI are partnering with key solar installers across the two countries to explore specific components of the cost divide between solar installation processes in the U.S. and Germany. Using survey data and time-and-motion studies, the project will measure the status quo in both countries, analyze key differences, and then propose solutions to improve the installation process in the U.S. and beyond.

“Despite the U.S.’s failure to lower soft costs to date, others—notably Germany—show it can be done,” said Jon Creyts, program director at RMI. “Identifying the key drivers of price differences between the two markets will help us understand how U.S. installers can dramatically lower these costs and drive the industry into the future.”

Building on the recommendations of RMI’s 2010 charrette on achieving low-cost solar PV, the Simple BoS project will delve deeply into the installation processes and will look at several key factors in the solar installation process, including the labor hours of PV installation, the impact of local government involvement and permitting regulations on installation time and pricing, and the difference in time-to-system activation—the length of time it takes for a solar project to go from signed contract to energized system—between the U.S. and Germany.

RMI is actively recruiting installers now to participate. Interested companies should click here.

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