Rocky Mountain Institute Awarded DOE Funding to Drive Innovative Solar Business Models

RMI and partners working to advance low-cost solar PV

Snowmass, Colo. - Today, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) announced funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for their Innovative Solar Business Models Project.

The Advanced Solar Technology Awards, part of the DOE's SunShot Initiative, recently granted more than $145 million for advanced solar technologies. One of the six categories of funded projects included extreme balance of system hardware cost reductions.

This funding builds on RMI's collaboration with DOE that began at RMI's balance of system charrette (DOE was a key sponsor) and continued with DOE's February 2011 workshop on solar process costs, which RMI facilitated.

"These funding opportunities and the tremendous response from around the country with innovative ideas contained in the proposals submitted to the DOE are a testament to the success of RMI's collaboration with the DOE and industry to address fundamental cost challenges within the solar PV supply chain," said Ned Harvey, RMI chief operating officer.

Driving Innovative Solar Business Models
RMI was awarded $683,692 to accelerate large-scale adoption of solar PV through the creation and adoption of innovative approaches to utility regulation, rate design and business models.

RMI's Innovative Solar Business Models project supports the goal of large-scale deployment of solar technologies by directly targeting the major medium- and long-term regulatory and business barriers for utilities. Through this project, RMI aims to align the interest of utilities with the continued growth of the solar PV industry and enable high penetration of solar PV onto the utility grid.

By leveraging RMI's convening power and technical expertise to recruit and manage a working group of diverse experts from utilities, state regulators, academia, NGO's and government labs, this project will provide a venue to discuss the merits of different approaches to creating regulatory structures and business models to maximize value created by solar.

"The Innovative Solar Business model project represents an exciting first step for all of us as we start to work on the other side of the coin: generating gigawatt scale demand for solar," said Harvey. "Through this project, we will be working in collaboration with the industry's most important customers to explore how a deeper partnership with the solar industry might create new opportunities for utilities and utility executives around the country."

In addition, RMI is a member of two teams that were also awarded SunShot funding. RMI's role in these projects is as follows:

1. Supporting Georgia Tech Research Institute's (GTRI) $2.8 million DOE contract to develop a commercially-ready, next generation PV balance-of-system (BoS) design. The project, titled "SIMPLE BoS" (Solar, Installation, Mounting, Production, Labor and Equipment) is focused on finding ways to reduce BoS costs through ground and roof mount innovations by developing new module designs, integration, materials, and wire management methods, and to reduce mounting hardware costs and associated labor costs by fifty percent of industry best practice.

Led by GTRI in collaboration with Suniva, Inc. and Radiance Solar, the project team also includes faculty and students from Georgia Tech's College of Architecture, School of Mechanical Engineering and Center for Biologically Inspired Design, RMI, VClear, Georgia Aerospace and Intertek.

2. Working with SolarTech on its $2.5 million DOE-funded "Solar 3.0" project to leverage pilot cities to develop best practices in permitting and interconnections.
Solar3.0 delivers process innovation through standardization of local land use, zoning code ordinances, permitting processes and interconnection rules for distributed PV. The Solar3.0 platform goal is to achieve a 50 percent reduction in non-hardware BOS costs across approximately 90 percent of the U.S. solar market in targeted solar communities by 2014 through development and implementation of innovative, scalable regulatory approaches and process enhancements across multiple levels of government and industry.

Led by SolarTech-a non-profit industry consortium with a mission to remove non-hardware, process related cost-barriers to acceleration of U.S. solar markets-the Solar3.0 team is made up of national, regional and industry partners. For more information, visit http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110920005489/en/SolarTech%E2%80%99s-Solar3.0-Process-Innovation-Platform-Selected-National

Read more about RMI's background in convening solar industry stakeholders to drive BoS cost reductions at http://rmi.org/rmi/SolarPVBOS.

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About Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an independent, entrepreneurial, nonprofit think-and-do tank. RMI emphasizes integrative design, advanced technologies, and mindful markets in fulfilling its mission to drive the efficient and restorative use of resources. RMI's strategic focus is to map and drive the U.S. transition from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables by 2050.