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Validating User-Friendly Solar-Design and Energy-Performance Modeling Software

Company Name: Folsom Labs, Inc.
Program Office: Solar
Location: San Francisco, CA
Email: Teresa Zhang, X;
Award Amount: $56,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): National Renewable Energy Laboratory


HelioScope is a unique solar-design and energy-performance modeling tool that bridges the worlds of research and industry, bringing the most rigorous methods from the performance modeling community to thousands of solar developers of all backgrounds.

However, many financial institutions and municipalities are hesitant to accept the energy production and shading modeling results of HelioScope, and continue to rely on costly, time-intensive, redundant methods, due to lack of vetting from a respected institution like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Many potential users wish to adopt HelioScope instead of using more costly and time-consuming processes, but lack the confidence or the resources to do their own vetting.

This SBV Pilot will provide expert vetting from an internationally respected laboratory. If successful, these validation exercises will give municipalities and financial institutions the confidence they need to incorporate HelioScope into their operations, saving time by significantly reducing users' needs to otherwise obtain information that HelioScope models produce automatically.


Folsom Labs makes HelioScope, a unique software package that bridges the worlds of research and application. Over 7,000 users benefit from advanced physics engines and the latest developments from the photovoltaic performance modeling community. The tool helps technical and non-technical people alike design solar projects with rigor, depth, and intuitive ease.

Users say that HelioScope cuts their workload by hours every day, allowing them to develop more solar projects and to optimize each project to create more value. HelioScope includes a permit generator package (supported by a Department of Energy SunShot Award), light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data in limited locations, and shade loss reports, in addition to energy production simulations.


It is projected that users who are approved to submit HelioScope shade reports can cut out a minimum of two to four hours of work per project. Developers seeking financing from banks that accept HelioScope energy production models can eliminate the process of replicating HelioScope models using PVsyst software, saving between one hour and tens of hours, depending on the complexity of the project, and avoiding introduced errors. In short, broad deployment of HelioScope can result in accelerated solar development, which — depending on the energy mix of power offset — results in variable but significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

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