PV systems, especially when deployed in a distributed manner, have the potential to provide millions of homes and businesses with locally produced clean electricity, generate new jobs in upstream (manufacturing) and downstream (construction) sectors, create returns for investors, and help meet the needs of utilities. But solar faces a number of barriers to large-scale adoption in the U.S. market.
In order to help PV solar reach true scale and make RMI’s long-term goals a reality, the solar program has one major goal: to accelerate PV deployment across the U.S. We are working to realize the Reinventing Fire vision of an affordable, equitable, low-carbon, and reliable electric system that heavily features electricity produced from photovoltaic (PV) solar systems.
RMI’s solar work focuses on four major, yet overlapping, avenues of change, illustrated below:
RMI is currently engaged in several projects funded by private donors, industry, and the Department of Energy.
RMI developed design criteria and an analytical framework in conjunction with the Georgia Tech Research Institute that is guiding the development of new PV module and racking designs. Learn more
Focus Area: Economic Viability
Impact: Commercial-ready designs from the SIMPLE BoS project are expected to reduce racking/mounting hardware and associated labor costs by fifty percent of industry best practice.
Innovative Solar Business Models
RMI’s electricity practice is currently investigating how high PV penetration levels disrupt the standard, centralized, utility-driven electrification model. As a part of this work, we are currently working on identifying utility business model solutions that will be needed to create a substantially more distributed electrification future. Learn More
Focus Areas: Integration into the Electrical System
Impact: Report identifying key sources of value in utility business models that will lead utilities to support widespread adoption of distributed solar resources.
In conjunction with partners across the U.S. solar industry, RMI is working to implement innovative, scalable regulatory approaches and process enhancements across multiple levels of government and industry to reduce balance of system costs for solar PV projects.
Focus Areas: Economic Viability, Integration into the Electric System
Impact: Reduce all non hardware balance of system costs by 50% by 2014.
Solar Friendly Communities
RMI worked with local governments in Colorado to develop a best-practice roadmap intended to reduce the “soft costs” of rooftop solar PV systems including those associated with permitting, inspection, and interconnection.
Focus Areas: Economic Viability, Customer and Citizen Demand
Impact: Reduce permitting and inspection-related costs by 25% for rooftop solar systems
Visit Solar PV Balance of System to see what we've done in the past.