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Hacking Away at Soft Costs: 24-Hour Coding Event Focuses on Expanding Solar Market

May 7, 2014 - 2:45pm

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Douglas Hitching (left), CEO of Silicon Solar Solutions and Henry Chung, LG, talk during a one-on-one networking session at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Industry Growth Forum in 2012. The SunShot Initiative and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are hosting a hackathon at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit as part of an overall effort to lower "soft costs" of solar energy. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Douglas Hitching (left), CEO of Silicon Solar Solutions and Henry Chung, LG, talk during a one-on-one networking session at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Industry Growth Forum in 2012. The SunShot Initiative and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are hosting a hackathon at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit as part of an overall effort to lower "soft costs" of solar energy. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Since the launch of the SunShot Initiative, America’s solar energy industry has experienced unprecedented growth. Solar made up the second-largest source of new generating capacity behind natural gas last year, representing 29% of all new electricity generation in the United States. However, critical challenges remain as we strive to reach the SunShot goal of making solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by 2020.

Non-hardware costs, or “soft costs,” including permitting, installation, and labor fees, account for more than 64% of the total system installation price for a solar energy system. This challenge also represents a major opportunity for innovation.

To help address soft costs, the SunShot Initiative and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are hosting the SunShot Hackathon at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit, May 19-22 in Anaheim, California.

The 24-hour SunShot Hackathon, which will take place from 5 p.m. on May 21 to 5 p.m. on May 22, will be a one-of-a-kind event focusing on expanding the solar market in the United States. The event, which is free for the first 50 registrants, is open to teams of programmers, product designers, media producers, software pros, and energy experts who will brainstorm and collaborate to build web and mobile apps aimed at accelerating adoption of solar technologies. Teams will develop these apps through application programming interfaces, or APIs, using energy data from NREL and several SunShot Incubator awardees, including Geostellar and Genability.  

This collaboration will open new data sets in a unique public-private partnership and harness the innovative talent of the software community’s capabilities and resources—all focused on advancing solar technology in an exciting new way. Register now to participate in the SunShot Hackathon. 

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