Pre-Screening for Solar Projects on Federal Sites

Close-up photo of nearly a dozen rows of square, blue solar modules that are mounted flat on a roof.

The U.S. Postal Service installed a 127-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof of its Marina Processing and Distribution Center.
Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

Conducting an agency-wide solar energy pre-screening is important prior to starting the project planning process when significant resources are expended.

An agency-wide solar energy screening is a preliminary assessment of the viability of the agency's sites to host solar energy systems. This screening will include a basic overview of the potential of sites to host solar installations with approximate size estimation and energy production. The screening process enables agency decision makers to select the best sites for renewable energy investment and to meet their renewable targets more economically.

An agency-wide renewable energy screening should cover the following specifics for each site considered:

  • Estimated annual energy production
  • Recommended solar technologies
  • Available area for solar collectors.

A successful solar screening will give agencies valuable information they can use to begin the process for developing targeted site or regional solar procurements, described in the next section of this guide. More information related to solar screening can be found in Appendix B on page 77.

Obtaining Solar Screening

Several options exist for obtaining a solar screening. In some cases, a DOE laboratory can perform the screening. DOE labs have several resources to help with screenings such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Renewable Energy Optimization (REO) service.

A solar screening can also be conducted internally or externally under an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) or by engaging a contractor listed in the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Comprehensive Professional Energy Services Blanket Purchase Agreement.

The organization selected to perform the agency-wide screening must have a good understanding of solar technology applications and performance.

After the pre-screening, the next step in the process is planning for the solar installation.