Funding Program: SuNLaMP
SunShot Subprogram: Soft Costs
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,650,000

This project assembles the first comprehensive assessment of baseline costs, cost reduction strategies, and environmental impact reduction strategies. The assessment covers site preparation practices for utility-scale solar projects, opportunities for addressing environmental impacts, and innovative siting practices to minimize impacts, such as utilizing contaminated lands and co-locating solar projects on agricultural lands. Through extensive industry stakeholder engagement, researchers will translate these results into industry-focused products that reduce costs and increase development.


The research team will analyze existing and proposed utility- and commercial-scale projects to collect data on current and developing projects and incorporate results into solar cost models and online visualization platforms. They will also examine proposed solar projects on contaminated and marginal lands and evaluate approaches to reduce the costs and financial risks in developing projects on these lands. Regular webinars will be held to communicate information to industry stakeholders.


The foundational data development in this project will produce a quantitative demonstration of cost reductions from low impact practices, which will contribute to greater financial security for industry adoption of lower impact practices. Frequent stakeholder engagement activities with industry, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will ensure project activities take advantage of the latest developments and will serve as a distribution network for project results. By incorporating the strategies developed by this project, developers could realize 3-8% of the dollar-per-watt cost reductions and 5-19% of the dollar-per-kilowatt-hour cost reductions necessary to achieve SunShot goals.