General Electric (GE) wants to cut the cost of rooftop solar in half by standardizing rack and other system components that make up a typical photovoltaic (PV) installation. As global price competition ratchets up for the solar panels themselves, the company is investing nearly $6 million to research how to streamline and simplify installations so they are “as routine as putting a new roof on your home,” according to Charlie Korman, manager of Solar Energy Programs at GE Global Research.
Today, rooftop installations are customized for the roof type, orientation, and type of system and are subjects to different permitting processes of each locality.
The goal, according to a GE spokesman, is to get solar power systems in line with costs for generating electricity using traditional methods – reducing generation costs from $6.50 a watt to $3.00 a watt.
GE is in a good position to set industry best practices and put renewable energy systems within reach of more homeowners and businesses. The company has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a solar panel manufacturing plant in Colorado to produce thin film solar panels that the company hopes will be price-competitive with offerings from Chinese and other suppliers. The company could reach millions of residential and business solar users in the U.S. and overseas with its low-cost panels and standardized installation kits.
Image credit: GE