Soft Costs

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Speeding Up the Going Solar Process
A solar project is helping to reduce the amount of red tape involved with permitting solar projects and streamline processes for solar customers.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office’s soft costs subprogram works to address challenges associated with non-hardware costs of solar and remove market barriers to the adoption of solar energy technologies throughout the United States. The soft costs subprogram works in the following strategic areas: networking and technical assistancedata analysisbusiness innovation, and training.

The soft or “plug-in” costs of solar account for as much as 64% of the total cost of a new solar system. These barriers are often the result of a lack of information needed to do a job or make a decision. These information gaps can slow market growth or prevent market access.

Through its data analysis and technical solutions programs, SETO examines the market barriers facing solar consumers and develops practical applications for addressing the challenges to solar deployment, including expanding access to those who have been left out of the solar market, like non-profits, renters, and low-income households.

Through innovative solar training programs, SETO analyzes the workforce needs and develops frameworks and solutions to support the rapidly growing solar industry. Solar industry employment has increased 159% since 2010 and has grown nearly nine times faster than the national average job growth rate. 

These training programs are bolstered by a set of fundamental business innovation solutions that enable efficient solar transactions and text experimental program designs that enable greater access to solar electricity like community and shared solar.

Finally, SETO's technical assistance programs support state and local governments as they undergo strategic planning to lower market barriers for solar energy in order to meet state and national renewable energy goals. This work ensures that solar power becomes affordable and accessible for more Americans every day. 

Learn more about soft costs funding programs

View the soft costs fact sheet (PDF).

Workshops & Events

Industry workshops help SETO obtain a wide range of stakeholder feedback to guide our mission. Learn more about the workshops that have identified barriers and opportunities to greater solar deployment.

Soft Costs Success Stories

EERE Success Story—Spreading Sunshine: SolSmart Recognizes 300th Community for Going Solar
In October 2019, the city of Anchorage became the 300th community in the United States to receive a SolSmart designation.
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EERE Success Story—Real Estate Professionals Embrace Solar Power
As solar energy’s popularity continues to grow among homeowners, it’s changing the way people buy and sell homes.
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EERE Success Story—Solar Savings and Benefits Multiply with Energy Tradeoff Calculator
When attracting new solar customers, a savings forecast is at the heart of every solar installer’s pitch. A savings forecast helps potential cust...
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EERE Success Story—Empire State Strikes Back: Solar Will Help New York City Rebound After National Disasters
With the help of the SunShot Initiative, Sustainable CUNY began work on the Smart Distributed Generation (DG) Hub-Resilient Solar Project, a roadma...
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EERE Success Story—Sun Number Partnership with Zillow Brings Solar Potential Scores to Millions of Americans

Millions of Americans looking to buy a home have a new resource to help them go solar in the process. Thanks to a partnership between SunShot...

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EERE Success Story—Solar for the People: Online Marketplace Expands Solar Access Options in Rhode Island
EERE Success Story—Solar for the People: Online Marketplace Expands Solar Access Options in Rhode Island
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EERE Success Story—Expanding Solar Access to Nonprofits
The Solar Foundation is leading a team that developed the CivicPACE program through an award from the SunShot Initiative. CivicPACE addresses the u...
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EERE Success Story—Data Access and Analytics Improve Solar Valuation
EERE Success Story—Data Access and Analytics Improve Solar Valuation
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EERE Success Story—Sowing Seeds for Success: Interdisciplinary Research Blossoms at DOE
EERE Success Story—Sowing Seeds for Success: Interdisciplinary Research Blossoms at DOE
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