EERE Success Story—California: SunShot-Supported Technology Maximizes Taxpayer's Investment

January 24, 2014

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In September 2011, as part of the SunShot Initiative BOS-X: Extreme Balance of System Hardware Cost Reduction funding opportunity, Zep Solar, a company founded in 2009, was awarded just under $1 million over three years to develop its innovative, low-cost rooftop mounting equipment designs for the commercial and utility-scale markets. The company was able to successfully complete its phase 1 proof of concept on schedule, and within about 50% of the phase budget.

Zep Solar modeled that the systems developed under BOS-X would shave $0.28 per watt off of the benchmark total installed price when deployed at scale. The savings are driven by reduced mounting hardware costs and labor costs. Zep Solar showcased its designs at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit in July 2012, and it debuted the BOS-X-funded “Aero-5” at Solar Power International conference in late 2012. Based on the successful outcome of phase 1 of the SunShot-funded effort, the company witnessed a strong growth in its commercial prospects. On October 9, 2013, Zep Solar was acquired by SolarCity for approximately $158 million in stock.

Based on the phenomenal commercial outcome catalyzed by EERE funding, SunShot elected to graduate Zep Solar from the BOS-X program after phase 1 was complete, well in advance of its originally planned three year schedule. This is an example of SunShot's strategic investment in a high-risk technology of a small business in the U.S. achieve commercial success. It is also testament to SunShot's active program management that effectively stewarded the awardee's effort and funding to maximize the taxpayer’s return on investment, while working to fulfill SunShot and Energy Department objectives. Read more about SunShot's projects in Systems Integration here.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) focuses on achieving the goals of the SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.

Project Overview

Positive Impact

Zep Solar equipment will help reduce install costs significantly and cut installation time in half, making it faster, easier, and cheaper for more Americans to go solar.

Location

San Rafael, California

Partner

Zep Solar

EERE Investment

$100,000

Clean Energy Sector

Renewable Electricity Generation