The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative has launched a new, $4 million effort to increase access to solar data to help increase solar market transparency and fair pricing. The department has awarded four organizations to establish data standards for the industry.
“The SunShot Initiative's Orange Button project will do for solar what the Green Button project did for energy use data and the Blue Button project did for health records: simplify and standardize solar data so that state governments, customers, utilities, financiers, solar companies, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders can exchange quality data,” the Energy Department said. “After the Orange Button data standards are created and launched, data producers like solar companies and utilities can embed a graphic showing an orange button into their app, software, or onto their website to show data users like consumers or financial professionals that a given dataset can be downloaded in the established Orange Button format.”
The department awarded kWh Analytics with $1 million, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with $400,000, the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel with $615,426 and SunSpec Alliance with 1.6 million. The hope is that standards will improve the ability of apps, software, and other websites to store and use energy data and will ensure that the evolving data needs of the solar industry are met.
One of the issues solar power faces is that there’s a ton of data about it but it is disparate. Different states and municipalities might want different information. At the same time solar companies don’t disclose information in a uniform fashion across the industry. “In order to understand the financial risk of solar energy project development, the solar energy community relies on fragmented datasets released by state energy offices and a limited number of private organizations regarding project origination, grid integration, operations, and retirement,” the department explained. It added that the datasets vary widely in terms of quality of information and type of information, which makes it difficult to understand markets and potential markets.
The department said the project will help make it easier to share and secure the information. “Establishing data standards and sharing key datasets throughout the industry will reduce the cost of capital for new solar energy projects by making information about the potential performance of solar projects more readily available and easy to understand,” the departmentTweet