NREL launches initiative to build solar performance database

April 9, 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has launched an initiative to build an open-source database of real-world performance from solar facilities across the country. As part of DOE's SunShot Initiative, the Open Solar Performance and Reliability Clearinghouse (O-SPaRC) will give the private market tools to develop investment vehicles to tap low-cost public capital.

"The O-SPaRC dataset will provide the market with critical data on the long-term performance of residential and commercial solar facilities," NREL Senior Financial Analyst Michael Mendelsohn said. "This is an important step to tapping the public capital markets and offers the potential to significantly lower the cost of solar energy."

O-SPaRC will improve access to capital by enabling credit rating agencies and potential investors to assess the underlying risk of the asset class. It will also give the private market the tools to develop investment vehicles such as asset-backed securities, master limited partnerships, real estate investment trusts, and various debt products.

The work is funded by the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Other components of the project include standardization of solar contracts via the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group and detailed analysis of the opportunities and barriers to finance solar development with public capital. NREL contracted with SunSpec Alliance to build the anonymous system- dataset. Visit the O-SPaRC sign-up page to participate.

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