Solar permitting app saves thousands of hours in first year

A worker in an industrial setting up solar panels on a roof. (Courtesy: Shutterstock)

In its first year, a free app that instantly processes permit applications for rooftop solar and storage permit applications saved nearly 5,000 hours.

SolarAPP+, a web-based platform developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is integrated directly into local jurisdictions permit management systems. The app had been used by 13 communities to save 4,700 hours and approve 31 MW of permits as of March.

Pleasant Hill and Stockton are among the communities that have fully adopted SolarAPP+.

Beaumont and Modesto in California are currently piloting SolarAPP+, while Oceanside, Richmond, and California are currently testing it.

Source: NREL

SolarAPP+’s future success is dependent on education. There are many permitting jurisdictions in the U.S.

In the past, several companies tried to develop their own permitting platforms. SolarAPP+ can be used by any company or jurisdiction.

Anne Hoskins, chief of policy at Sunrun, said that in the past year, more companies have come forward to discuss some of our larger policy challenges. She also supported NREL’s work with SolarAPP+. “It’s a winner from all sides.”

Source: NREL

California state senator Scott Wiener (D. San Francisco) proposed legislation that would allow instant online solar permitting in counties with over 150,000 residents. The Solar Access Act, which passed the California Senate, has now been sent to the Assembly.

NREL reported that the residential PV market has grown from approximately 50,000 installations in 2010 up to more than 420,000 in 2020. The majority of these systems had to apply for a building permit from any of the more than 20,000 authorities that were under their jurisdiction.

NREL reported that the national average and median permit review times exceed five business days. Some areas can take up to a month. Many residential solar systems are also simple and standard, which allows software to automate the permitting process.

Last, September, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm wrote a letter urging mayors across the country to adopt the SolarAPP+ platform.

You can find more information about SolarAPP+ here.