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DOE Labs to Support truSolar Finance Efforts

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are to support the truSolar Working Group’s efforts to develop uniform open source risk scoring standards and rating criteria for solar projects as a means of easing the path to solar finance.

The truSolar Working Group was established on Jan. 14 as a collaborative consortium of 16 solar industry market leaders aiming to address a broad array of project risks through the development of uniform standards. The program hopes that standardizing rating criteria will facilitate lower transaction and capital costs, and improve project finance liquidity within the commercial and industrial solar sector. Currently less than 5 percent of the country’s 6,500 banks and lending institutions are actively involved in financing solar projects due to ongoing concerns about, and misunderstanding, industry risks, according to the truSolar Working Group.

Sandia says that it will use its work with truSolar to be examine the risks inherent in solar projects to “sharpen” its analytical tools for criteria and assessment in technical areas including yield and reliability. NREL describes the project as a “valuable opportunity” to create a common approach to characterize solar project benefits and risks and more precise alignment on pricing of project capital.

The truSolar Working Group is aiming to develop the truSolar credit screen to provide a comprehensive assessment of risks – including project, system, construction, performance and financing – from development to long-term operation, serving as an industry-driven, open-source standard credit screen for photovoltaic project selection, underwriting and approval, through which a wide range of business methods, analysis tools, and related products and services can be applied. The Group represents nearly $100 billion in global annual revenues, more than 600 years of institutional experience, and the industry’s best-practice, applied business knowledge throughout the value-chain.

The founding members of truSolar, led by Distributed Sun and DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, are among the leaders in solar project asset management, development, financing, manufacturing, insurance and ratings agencies. Founding member companies include ABB, Assurant Inc., Mosaic, PanelClaw, SMA America, Standard & Poor’s, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

In February, SolarCity and American Honda Motor Co. established an investment fund to finance $65 million in solar projects to assist Honda and Acura customers with the initial cost of solar power installation. Millions of Honda and Acura customers and hundreds of dealerships in SolarCity’s 14-state service area may be eligible for the special offer. SolarCity and Honda are targeting homeowners as well as Honda and Acura dealership owners.

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