EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

11.3 Preparing your project proposal draft


Learning Activity: Preparing your project proposal draft

Now it's time to pull the prior work together for a proposal to your clients. You are to use both SAM and your knowledge about the solar resource and economic decision making to propose one or more solar solutions for your client.

Remember: The Goal of Solar Design is to:

  1. Maximize the solar utility
  2. For the client
  3. In a given locale.

Your proposal should demonstrate the full spectrum of skills that you have been developing to accomplish this goal of solar design. At the same time the proposal should not be a heavy technical paper but rather should be crafted as a well-justified pitch to your client. The technical data on project design should be used to strengthen and support your message, not to confuse your potential reader.

In this course, the information covered has been broken down into three distinctive arcs:

  1. Technological Assessment: resource assessment, technology assessment, system performance simulations
  2. Economic Assessment: financial analysis, incentives, elasticity of demand, comparison of alternatives
  3. Sustainability/Risk Assessment: broader impacts, ways to reduce risk, uncertainty analysis, policy, stakeholder analysis, sustainability and ecosystems services

The project proposal should present some data and analysis to address all three of these important aspects of project development.

Tools to use:

Use any and all available tools to form a creative project proposal that will engage your client and be a compelling first step in project development. Using SAM software will be required, and I recommend that you use the "Create/Duplicate Case" menu to explore various options for a SECS project on behalf of your client. Go back to Lesson 6 for ideas, too. You are welcome to use the financial analysis spreadsheet we worked with in Lesson 7, although that is optional - you can as well use SAM for financial modeling. 

Here are some resources from the USA Dept. of Energy:

There are also the extensive resources available at the 7Group website:

Key elements to include:

  1. Title /author's name / date, semester (you can include a separate title page to improve the looks) 
  2. Introduction - brief synopsis on what this project is about, motivation, and goals
  3. General information on locale, client, and potential stakeholders
  4. Building/site characterization (if appropriate: energy demand and energy provider)
  5. SECS options: analysis of Solar PV /Solar Hot Water / or other and design (including efficiency strategies)
  6. Economic Considerations (cost analysis, incentives, payback..)
  7. Environmental Impacts and Ecosystems Assessment (consider both positive impacts and possible concerns)
  8. Recommended Integrative Design Plan (charrette, timeline, implementation, plan for commissioning and maintenance)
  9. References

When writing, try to look at your narrative through stakeholder's lens. It is important to relate the analysis you do to your client's goals and clearly explain the presented information to your audience. It is good to finish your proposal with a strong statement summarizing your key findings and benefits your project would bring. 

This week, at the pre-proposal stage, you may not be able to complete all of the elements and include all data you want to include. That is fine. If you need more work on a specific part of your proposal - just make space for it, provide a heading, and a description what is to be completed and to be included in the final document, so that your reviewer sees that you do are not forgetting anything important. Also, the above list can be used as proposal structure, but if you see a need to modify it to better fit your case, please feel creative.

Deliverables this week


For the first draft (pre-proposal), develop a 5-7 page document (Doc or PDF format) that would be a hybrid of an outline and written report (you can expand on finer details later in the final submission). This work is somewhat similar to Lesson 6, but this time you are specifying your own client and locale. Please submit your pre-proposal draft and *.sam file to "Project Proposal Draft" dropbox in Canvas. Further you will be able to see someone else’s proposal assigned to you for review in the same dropbox. The peer review assignments will be made by the instructor.

Once all pre-proposals are in, you will have three days for the peer-review task. You will send your peer-review and annotated author's proposal directly to the author and will submit it to a separate dropbox in Canvas for instructor's assessment. More detailed peer review instructions are given on the next page of this lesson and in Canvas. Please provide constructive feedback to your peers. You may also get new ideas for your own project from your peers during this review process, and your peer will provide you with ways to strengthen your own proposal. So, the benefits should be multifold, and if you each strive for excellence and creativity, your final proposal due in the final week will be strong and compelling and will have a high likelihood of receiving a high grade.

Please see the grading rubrics for the pre-proposal, peer-review, and final proposal tasks in Canvas.


Check the Canvas Calendar for specific due dates.