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The free SolarAPP+ tool is helping jurisdictions across the country to dramatically reduce solar permitting times.
Department of Energy

Solar Automated Permit Processing+, known as SolarAPP+, is a web-based platform that automates solar permitting for local governments and other authorities having jurisdiction. The Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) funded the initial development and commercialization of the SolarAPP+ tool in 2019 through an award to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This collaborative effort fosters rooftop solar adoption by making it easier for local governments to quickly and safely approve standardized rooftop projects.

NREL published reports on the first year (PDF) and second year (PDF) of SolarAPP+ that detail the performance and impact of the platform on participating communities. 

American-Made SolarAPP+ Prize

On Sep. 12, 2022, DOE announced the SolarAPP+ Prize, a $1 million program designed to accelerate the adoption of SolarAPP+. SETO will award prizes of $15,000 to local governments that successfully adopt or pilot SolarAPP+ in about five months. The prize funding will help local governments lower the cost of the adoption process.

The 125 Community SolarAPP+ Challenge

At the SolarAPP+ launch webinar on July 15, 2021, Energy Department Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm challenged 125 jurisdictions to sign up for SolarAPP+ by the end of the DOE Summer of Solar campaign. She also wrote a letter to mayors across the country encouraging them to adopt SolarAPP+. On September 28, 2021, the secretary announced the goal had been surpassed, with more than 125 jurisdictions signed up for the platform. The SolarAPP+ software is free for city and county permitting departments. Sign up your jurisdiction for SolarAPP+ by registering on NREL’s SolarAPP+ page.

How SolarAPP+ Works

SolarAPP+ provides local governments with a standard portal for receiving and processing permit information for residential solar and solar+storage systems. It can be incorporated into existing permitting systems used by jurisdictions. The portal conducts an automated permitting review for safety and code compliance, enabling local governments that adopt the tool to approve solar permits instantly. SolarAPP+ provides solar developers with a streamlined form that includes all the required specifications for permit applications, and it also will provide transparency into permitting timelines.

Why SolarAPP+ is Important

Reviewing and approving solar permitting applications requires time and resources for local governments. The sheer volume of solar permitting applications can cause a backlog and slow down solar deployment. Some local governments use paper permit applications, which can further delay the time it takes to install rooftop solar for customers.

SolarAPP+ can help to reduce this workload while accelerating solar deployment. SolarAPP+ allows developers to check code compliance of designs before submitting them for permit approval. Eligible permits are approved through automated code compliance checks while more technically complex systems are re-routed for manual review. Instant permitting enables contractors to speed up installation. Additionally, SolarAPP+ has the potential to significantly expand access to solar and battery technology and reduce soft costs associated with the installation process.

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