The reason that the U.S. is lagging behind in solar energy isn’t because of the cost solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Solar PV is becoming increasingly more affordable as technologies advance to increase efficiency and manufacturing costs continue to decline. However, the cost associated with getting a solar system actually installed up on your roof rather has not declined as quickly. “Soft costs” make up more than 50% of the entire cost of solar PV systems in the U.S. This isn’t the case everywhere though. The graph below demonstrates the difference between solar installation costs in the U.S. and Germany (currently leading the world in solar generated power). Soft costs in for solar installations are just a fraction of what they are in the U.S.
This is why the U.S. Department of Energy is enticing communities around the nation to focus their efforts on burning through the red tape that drives project costs up. $10 million in cash awards go to the teams that install the most PV systems in American homes. How these teams will do it is completely up to them. If they are clever enough, maybe they will get through to city and state officials where environmental organizations could not.
There is a maze of rules and regulations to get through, but $10 million is a good incentive to find a way through it.