Image credit: UL

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UL to improve and simplify the process used by local governments to assess and approve solar energy projects.

The two parties will be working together to further develop and commercialise the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+) software.

SolarAPP+ was developed using funding secured from the DoE and other energy stakeholders to automate the permitting process for residential solar systems.

Using the platform, local governments are able to cut down the time required to approve the development of solar projects from the national average of five business days to zero, according to a statement.

The app makes it easier for local governments to determine whether a proposed residential solar system is compliant with safety and code standards.

Improving the capabilities of the app will increase the ability of local governments to handle high volumes of permits more efficiently as demand for solar increases across the country.

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As part of the MoU, NREL will add new features to SolarAPP+ until March 2023 before handing over the management and deployment of the software to UL.

UL will also create new features that expand the scope to other clean energy technologies and installation scenarios.

Jeffrey Cook, NREL’s lead developer of SolarAPP+, adds: “This collaboration with UL is a critical first step in meeting our vision to deliver instant permitting nationwide.

“UL’s extensive code-related experience in the solar market drove our decision to partner with them. Their credibility with installers, customers and local governments will help us build a scalable product, while instilling local government confidence in the automated code compliance checks at the heart of the application.”

He said the goal is to have the software used to cover 90% of all residential solar and solar plus storage permits by 2030.

Ken Boyce, senior director, Principal Engineering at UL, said: “We are committed to innovative ways to build confidence in renewable energy solutions.

“We recognize the value SolarAPP+ brings to governments, the solar industry and the public, and we look forward to supporting jurisdictions in establishing access to safe solar energy technologies for their residents.”