SolarAPP+ Pilot Analysis: Performance and Impact of Instant, Online Solar Permitting

Juliana Williams, Jeffrey Cook, Jesse Cruce, Kaifeng Xu, Seth Crew, Minahil Qasim, Matt Miccioli

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) led a collaborative effort to develop the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+), a no-cost solar permitting software solution to address residential solar photovoltaic (PV) permitting resource constraints and streamline solar adoption processes among authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs). The SolarAPP+ is an online portal that automates permit plan review, enabling an instant permit approval process for code-compliant residential PV systems. Based on national model building, electrical, and fire codes, the SolarAPP+ automatically performs a compliance check of permit inputs against code requirements and produces an inspection checklist that can be used to verify installation practices, workmanship, and adherence to the approved design. NREL conducted a two-phase pilot with five participating AHJs and 16 solar contractors, spanning from November 2020 through December 2021, evaluating the ability of SolarAPP+ to deliver instant permits and its impact on four critical areas within each AHJ: permit review timelines; solar adoption timelines; AHJ time saved; and inspection results. The pilot confirmed that SolarAPP+ reduced permit review times to less than one day, reduced solar adoption timelines by an average of 12 days, saved an estimated 2,067 staff hours, and had comparable inspection results to those found in traditional permitting. The pilot further identified key lessons for improving SolarAPP+, including ways to streamline SolarAPP+ adoption, development of training resources, and expansion of supported products.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages36
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-81603


  • AHJ
  • authority having jurisdiction
  • automated permitting
  • residential solar
  • solar
  • solar permitting
  • solar PV


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