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The SunShot National Laboratory Multiyear Partnership (SuNLaMP) funding program enables our country’s national laboratories to support soft cost reductions, expand access to solar energy, and accelerate solar deployment. Research at these labs has played an important role in characterizing and reducing soft costs, and will continue to be instrumental in accelerating progress towards and addressing the most critical barriers to achieving the SunShot goals.

SuNLaMP awards also go to teams working in systems integration, technology to market, photovoltaics, and concentrating solar power research areas. Learn more about the SuNLaMP awards in other subprograms.


The soft costs focus area of SuNLaMP supports:

  • Techno-economic, market characterization, policy, and regulatory analysis and studies;
  • Development of training and reference materials that support a wide range of professionals;
  • Deep-dive analysis in support of, and as part of, technical assistance to key stakeholders including regulatory staff, utility professionals, and state and federal agencies;
  • Evidence and innovation through evaluation, measurement and verification, judgment and decision-making science, market facilitation, and implementing low-cost randomized trials; and
  • The development of peer networks, increasing diffusion and dissemination of best practices and innovative policies and business models.


The SuNLaMP soft costs projects address the non-hardware costs, such as permitting, financing, and customer acquisition, which currently constitute more than half the cost of a residential PV system. By providing critical research that benefits the solar industry as a whole, these projects will help to make solar more accessible to all Americans.


Project: Promotion of PV Soft Cost Reductions in the Southeastern United States
Location: Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC
SunShot Award Amount: $1,480,000
Project Summary: This project creates a replicable model for solar photovoltaic (PV) soft cost reduction in South Carolina through human capacity-building at the local level and direct efforts to harmonize policy at the inter-county or regional level. This effort will close the gap between South Carolina installed costs of residential rooftop solar and national averages and develop a portable and replicable model that can be applied to other jurisdictions in the future.

Project: Development of Tools, Training, and Outreach to Address Solar Glare and Flux-Related Avian Impacts
Location: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $880,101
Project Summary: This project reduces soft costs associated with siting, permitting, environmental compliance, and operations and maintenance to address glare and flux-related avian hazards for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Enhancements, training, and technical assistance will be provided for the Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT), which determines when and where solar glare can occur throughout the year from a user-specified solar array as viewed from user-prescribed observation points. By addressing glare and avian issues, this project will allow for solar projects to be installed on or near airport property in compliance of federal regulations.

Project: Strategic Analysis: Core Analytical Support to SunShot
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,499,736
Project Summary: This project provides core analytical support that will enable the SunShot Initiative to carry out its activities more effectively and efficiently. Laboratory analysts will draw on multiple internal and external data sources, as well as management and staff, to develop timely information and analysis. This project will continue the longstanding collaboration between the labs and SunShot, and it will leverage ongoing work to better serve the Energy Department’s needs.

Project: Meeting SunShot Cost and Deployment Targets through Innovative Site Preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment (InSPIRE)
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,650,000
Project Summary: This project achieves cost reductions through 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. Extensive industry stakeholder engagement will guide translation of the results into industry-focused products that reduce costs and increase development.

Project: Innovative Framework to Increase Dispersion of Lab Data
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,540,672
Project Summary: This project supports hundreds of new collaborations and partnerships for startups and growing companies through effective dissemination of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) data, models, and tools. Specifically, this project will create new relationships within the industry to shape priorities on tool enhancements and define opportunities for co-development of tools, such as the Utility Rate Database and OpenPV.

Project: Solar-Plus-Storage: Removing Barriers through Cost-Optimization and Market Characterization
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,203,909
Project Summary: This project examines cost-optimal system configurations for solar plus storage through data-driven, model-based analysis and creates an economic-based customer adoption classification for these systems. The analysis will be completed through data collection from existing solar plus storage projects, world-class NREL modeling tools and innovative methodologies to identify optimal configurations at the project level, and stakeholder engagement.

Project: Towards a Low Cost Solar Future: Tracking and Analyzing Solar Cost, Price, and Market Trends
Location: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $2,503,530
Project Summary: This project consolidates efforts to measure progress towards the SunShot targets, identify pathways for further cost reductions, and speed solar deployment. The team will build large and varied datasets to track and analyze trends in the cost, performance, and pricing of solar systems through the Tracking the Sun and Utility-Scale Solar reports. This will provide foundational analysis to help address the remaining non-hardware cost and deployment barriers.

Project: Towards a Low Cost Solar Future: Baselines, Trajectories, and Impacts
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,700,000
Project Summary: This project quantifies the soft and hard costs of solar accurately in order to target research and development activities that increase market transparency, disseminate research that guides accelerated solar deployment strategies, and identify opportunities to facilitate solar cost reductions. This foundational analysis will help address the remaining non-hardware cost and deployment barriers to achieving ubiquitous solar.

Project: Best Practices for Operation and Maintenance of PV and Storage System
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,821,787
Project Summary: This project addresses the needs of the rapidly growing photovoltaic (PV) operations and maintenance (O&M) industry to ensure that solar projects are maintained at a high level of consistency and quality. A working group of financial and legal firms, solar developers, O&M service providers, and utilities will contribute to a PV O&M Best Practice document, sharing field data in a performance database and a failure and reliability database. The group will also create a PV O&M Cost Model to estimate costs of delivering a PV O&M program that considers system characteristics and which conditions determine the optimal cleaning and repair schedules for solar projects. This work will enable financial firms to easily categorize, predict, and support solar projects with lower financing costs, which will increase the effectiveness of O&M and the resulting energy delivery and reduce the cost of maintaining PV systems.

Project: SunShot State Solar Technical Assistance Team Network
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,978,337
Project Summary: With thousands of state-level legislators and a range of state energy office models throughout the country, there are significant challenges to directly informing policymakers about solar policy and program support mechanisms. This project creates the Solar State Technical Assistance Team Network (STAT Network), which will multiply SunShot state policy and program technical assistance by partnering with, training, and deploying information through trusted government membership organizations. Combined, these organizations will provide non-advocacy solar information to every state-level government in the United States.

Project: Untapped Markets: Catalyzing Mid-Scale Solar Deployment through Deep-Dive Analysis and Decision Support
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,458,635
Project Summary: In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to increase the deployment of mid-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems by identifying key untapped market segments, then engaging relevant stakeholder groups to identify and solve key market barriers, while providing technical tools and expertise to empower decision makers. This project will also help solar developer and installer communities by providing analyses that quantify the size and suitability of potential markets, while defining barriers and opportunities for mid-scale solar systems.

Project: Utility Technical Assistance and Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,131,704
Project Summary: This project focuses on problems utilities are solving related to integrating photovoltaics (PV) onto distribution grids. The team provides one-on-one technical assistance to utilities to help address particular areas of concern. In addition, the project team convenes quarterly webinars to discuss important topics of interest to utility stakeholders, and to disseminate information including lessons learned.

Project: Aligning Utility and Solar Interests: Utility Regulation and Planning for a SunShot Future
Location: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,200,001
Project Summary: This project assesses emerging and innovative options for aligning high distributed photovoltaic (PV) deployment with utility shareholder and ratepayer interests. The team is evaluating the potential for bankable demand charge savings and identifying best practices for incorporating solar into resource planning studies. Through this combination of targeted analyses and stakeholder engagement, the project empowers key decision-makers to alleviate market barriers in order to increase deployment and lower business risks and market inefficiencies that inflate soft costs.

Project: Addressing Environmental Challenges to Deployment through the Development of an Avian-Solar Science Plan and a Prototype Avian Risk Assessment Tool
Location: Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL
SunShot Award Amount: $501,308
Project Summary: The soft costs associated with solar project development can increase with potential wildlife impacts. Avian impact issues associated with utility scale solar development, in particular avian fatalities, are not well understood. This project will address these issues to help reach SunShot soft cost target goals by better understanding avian issues at utility scale solar facilities and their soft cost implications using a systematic, standardized, science-based approach that could be applied across the industry.

Project: Solar PV and Real Estate: Harnessing Big Data to Drive Demand, Increase Transparency, and Lower BOS Costs
Location: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,071,229
Project Summary: This project analyzes the extent to which photovoltaics (PV) can add value to real estate properties. Past analyses have shown that PV adds value to host-owned residential properties, but there is a lack of information for residential properties with third-party owned (TPO) systems and commercial properties. This project will analyze the impact of these systems on home values and other factors, which will allow for increased growth of the PV market by providing real estate professionals and potential PV adopters with accurate valuations.

Project: Solar-Centered Grid
Location: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
SunShot Award Amount: $960,000
Project Summary: This project increases solar energy penetration into the national power grid by investigating new ways to overcome solar integration barriers. Developing new methods will allow pooling of solar resources over larger geographical areas in bulk electricity markets in order to revise overly restrictive power grid operational processes and practices.

Learn more about SunShot's other soft costs funding programs.