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Solar Screenings and Implementation Assistance for Universities

NREL is offering no-cost technical assistance to universities seeking to go solar, in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot initiative. The program is designed to increase the deployment of mid-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at universities, engage stakeholders to develop deployment solutions, and empower decision makers.

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NREL will provide universities with screenings and implementation assistance using the REopt energy planning platform. Any U.S. higher education institution is eligible to apply.

The following two types of technical assistance are available.

Solar Photovoltaic Screenings

Using the REopt model, NREL is conducting an initial techno-economic assessment of solar PV feasibility at selected universities. NREL provides each university with customized results, including the cost-effectiveness of solar PV, recommended system size, estimated capital cost to implement the technology, and estimated life cycle cost savings. Results are provided for two scenarios: optimizing for cost-effectiveness and optimizing for carbon reduction, as many stakeholders are trying to meet internal carbon reduction goals.

The application period for free solar PV screenings is closed, but universities can fund NREL to conduct analysis under a strategic partnership projects agreement.

In FY16 NREL worked with:

  • Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Lake Superior College
  • Luther College
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Colorado — Colorado Springs
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Washington and Lee University

In FY17 NREL is working with:

  • Beloit College
  • Georgia Tech
  • Lane Community College
  • South Central College
  • Thomas College
  • Tuskegee University
  • University of California Riverside

Solar Photovoltaic Implementation Assistance

NREL will provide short-term solar PV implementation assistance to decision-makers in the higher education sector through one-on-one consultations. Successful applicants will be partnered with expert NREL staff to determine the most effective use of assistance in deploying mid-scale solar PV. NREL will inform the university of existing resources and provide additional information specific to the organization's needs.

The following criteria will inform the selection process. Scoring low on one component will not automatically disqualify the university.

  • Campus solar and sustainability goals
  • Plans for future solar projects and solar deployment capacity (megawatts)
  • Regional diversity
  • Specificity of technical assistance request
  • Innovativeness of solar proposal (e.g., solar plus storage, microgrid component, partnerships with businesses, collaborative university purchases, or leveraging endowments)
  • Appropriateness for NREL's areas of expertise
  • Existing partnerships (e.g., EPA Green Power Partner)

Download the Implementation Assistance Application for Higher Education Institutions.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.


In 2016, NREL worked with the following universities:

  • Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C.)
  • Kennesaw State University (GA)
  • North Carolina State
  • Ohio University
  • Millersville University (PA)
  • Parkland College (IL)
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • SUNY College at Oneonta (NY)
  • University at Albany (NY)
  • University of Florida.


NREL publishes reports, fact sheets, presentations, and brochures aimed to help universities implement solar projects.