Last quarter, Tesla installed 85 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar power across the United States. That’s up from a mere 26 MW in Q2 2020. Of course, Q2 2020 was plagued by the covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. (Bad pun somewhat intended.) Nonetheless, a more than tripling of solar power installations is a big step up.

Energy storage deployments grew to a similarly large degree, from 419 GWh in Q2 2020 to 1274 GWh in Q2 2021.

However, these figures alone don’t tell the full story — perhaps not much at all.

Table from Tesla Q2 2021 Update

It typically takes months and months from the time that someone orders a rooftop solar system from Tesla to the day it actually goes online and starts generating electricity for them. After you buy a system, Tesla has to get a team out there to put it on your roof. That can take a while, and is especially dependent on the ratio between workers in the area who can perform a solar installation and the level of consumer demand for such solar systems.

But that may not even be the lengthiest part of the process (and wait) for most new solar buyers. In some places in the US, the permitting process can take just a few days less than forever. In many other places in the US, it can take weeks or months (as in, several months). There are not many places where it happens in the course of a week. Europe and Australia don’t seem to have a permitting problem anything like this. Permits are quick and easy. The US, for some reason, is slow to adapt.

On the plus side, that means there’s plenty of room for improvement in the US — which can bring costs down considerably. On the down side, the US is far behind. …

One promising initiative is the new SolarAPP+ initiative. It is helping to streamline the solar permitting process in places around the country. As simple as it sounds, this is one of the most exciting developments in the US solar industry in years. Thanks is due for all the people involved to make it happen. And on the topic of Tesla, note that Tesla was quite involved in the development of the program. Check out my interview with Amber D’Ottavio, Vice President of Product Management at Accela, to hear more:

I’ve been shocked, to be honest, at how slowly Tesla solar installations are getting both installed and permitted. Hopefully this is an area that can get quicker and quicker in the coming few years.

In the meantime, 85 MW of solar ain’t nothin’. That’s 85 MW of clean, homegrown power capacity that can create electricity from sunlight — and can also then power your electric car. Of all the many wonderful things in the cleantech industry, I’m not sure if anything beats the phrase “I’m driving on sunshine” or “I’m driving on sunlight.”

Photo © CleanTechnica

Side note: if you want to buy a rooftop solar power system from Tesla, you can use my referral code for $100 off. Just don’t expect it to be installed next week.

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