GOLDEN - The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has launched an initiative to build an open-source database from solar facilities across the country.

As part of the SunShot Initiative, the Open Solar Performance and Reliability Clearinghouse will give the private market tools to develop investment vehicles to tap low-cost public capital.

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

The information could 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 Department of Energy'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 working group and detailed analysis of the opportunities and barriers to finance solar energy development with public capital.

NREL contracted with SunSpec Alliance in Scotts Valley, California, to build the anonymous system-performance dataset. To participate, go online at http://www.sunspec.org.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy-efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.