The RAPID Toolkit: Facilitating Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Development

Aug. 10, 2015 by Megan Day

The Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit provides information about federal, state, and local permitting and regulations for utility-scale renewable energy and transmission projects—including large-scale solar projects in certain areas. In particular, the RAPID Toolkit now includes federal permitting information applicable in any state and state-level permitting requirements in California and Nevada for large-scale solar projects.

An illustrated table that explains the components of the RAPID toolkit.

Illustration by Lauren Zwicker, NREL.

Navigating the complex system of federal and state regulations to secure project approvals is one of the biggest hurdles renewable energy developers face. Uncertainty regarding the duration and outcome of the permitting process can be a deterrent for investment in clean energy. Lack of information can also slow down the construction of renewable energy and bulk transmission projects.

The RAPID Toolkit, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, makes permitting information easily accessible from a single site by providing links to permit applications, processes, manuals, and other related resources. The goal of the RAPID Toolkit is to facilitate communication between project developers and permitting agency personnel at all jurisdiction levels and among all project stakeholders—including the public. Reducing the permitting timeline by clarifying the process can significantly lessen total project costs and investor risk and, ultimately, encourage future clean energy development.

Expansion: California, Nevada, and BLM Solar Energy Zone States

The RAPID Toolkit’s regulatory flowchart library now outlines California and Nevada’s large-scale solar permitting processes. In addition, the RAPID Toolkit contains information on state-implemented federal regulations in four other states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) where there are BLM Solar Energy Zones. For these states, users will find information on Clean Water Act compliance as well as solid and hazardous waste regulations. Large-scale solar permitting roadmaps may be generated for additional state-level regulations in 2016 pending funding availability.

The map below illustrates the current RAPID Solar Toolkit coverage, including federal regulations applicable in all states.

An illustration of a map of the United States with California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico highlighted.

Illustration by Lauren Zwicker, NREL.

Contribute to the Development of the RAPID Toolkit

The RAPID Toolkit is on the OpenEI open source website, established by the U.S. Department of Energy, to easily reflect changes in the permitting and regulatory processes and provide up-to-date and relevant information to the renewable energy community. Success of the RAPID Toolkit is largely due to the active participation of industry and agency personnel at all jurisdiction levels.

Tags: Resources,Models and Tools