Orange Button Year One Program Recap

02 Feb 2017

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative selected SGIP, SunSpec Alliance, kWh Analytics, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to lead the Orange Button initiative, which will streamline the way the solar industry exchanges data. 

In the first year of the Orange Button program, SGIP and its partners have completed an Orange Button scoping study, established Technical Working Groups for Areas A and B and engaged the industry, and developed use cases which informed a Market Requirements Document (MRD) for the Orange Button data taxonomy.

To date, this progress has been met with DOE approval, and Area A, B and C teams are working through the continuation decision process with DOE for Orange Button.

Read below for a summary of the Orange Button program's first year accomplishments and see where you can get involved.


2016 has been a productive year for the Orange Button initiative.  Area A’s recruiting and outreach activities started in April and continued throughout the year with webinars and remote meetings of the five Area A requirements working groups.

The formal Orange Button kickoff was at Intersolar in San Francisco with a full house at the kickoff presentation, and great participation during the in-person requirements meetings the next day at Wells Fargo offices in downtown San Francisco. Those first meetings reviewed the Orange Button scoping study, discussed how the requirements effort would be best structured, and began collecting pain points and data issues with the solar project lifecycle that participants would like to see addressed with the Orange Button data taxonomy.  

During bi-weekly meetings that followed in 2016, the Area A working groups continued to discuss the scope of the Orange Button data taxonomy, the scope of each working group, and the types of standardized data needed in the taxonomy. The conclusions of these discussions are represented in a Market Requirements Document (MRD) and a set of use cases that define the Orange Button taxonomy scope and data.  These requirements have been delivered to Area B for them to continue their work on the detailed design of the Orange Button data taxonomy.  

In 2017, Area A teams will stay in place to make any revisions, clarifications, or edits that are needed as Area B builds the taxonomy.  There will be significant interaction between the A, B, and C awardee teams in 2017 as the pieces come together to complete the work.  

As the Orange Button data taxonomy moves beyond requirements and is developed, we’re looking forward to having a renewed conversation in 2017 with the solar industry about its benefits and how it can help advance the adoption of solar through increased bankability and increased transaction efficiency.  

To get involved in the Orange Button program, contact Aaron Smallwood, SGIP VP Technology at or the contacts listed below for Areas B and C.  

Area B SunSpec Alliance

The SunSpec Alliance commenced work on Area B of the Orange Button initiative in March 2016. The initial effort was focused on recruiting chairs for their five Technical Working Group (TWG) areas – Finance, Feasibility, Design, Construction and Operations; interviewing committed participants to gather use cases, existing standards and existing pain points that the work products should address. Efforts continued with outreach to recruit workgroup members to contribute and review the work products created by the five workgroups; and recruitment of early adopters of the initiative.

In August 2016, SunSpec formally launched all the five TWGs representing all the phases of the solar project lifecycle. The initial focus of the workgroups was to identify the high priority topics and use cases, review existing standards for their suitability to address the topics, and define the structure for the taxonomy to be built. As part of an agile development process, SunSpec and the workgroup chairs participated in Area A meetings to provide feedback on use cases, contribute to the MRD and feed input from the meetings into the Area B workgroup discussions. To date, all the TWGs have successfully created draft taxonomy to address a couple of high priority use cases. The taxonomy lists the data field, the definition of the data field, the source for the data fields, the attributes for the data fields and the use cases it addresses. 

SunSpec Alliance will continue the taxonomy development in 2017 through workgroup consensus addressing all the high priority use cases identified in the MRD. We will also be codifying the taxonomy into Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for the use in applications to accelerate adoption. Finally, we also will be providing a test framework and test tool to accelerate product readiness and compliance to Orange Button standards.

As always we are looking for subject matter experts to participate in the taxonomy creation and evaluation of our work. To participate in the technical workgroups or to monitor progress, please enroll in the program at

Area C NREL and kWh Analytics

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and kWh Analytics are working on various elements of Area C to ensure that the data standards are useful and accessible to industry.

NREL has been participating in early project kick-off meetings and industry stakeholder meetings to better understand the industry needs and to enable useful data exchange platform for the Orange Button initiative. 

To date, NREL created the first web presence for Orange Button at  The web site provides Orange Button background information, links to the partners involved in the effort, and encourages industry participation.

By participating in several relevant solar conferences, NREL has presented information about Orange Button to gain even more industry participation for the project.  In addition, NREL has been working behind the scenes to begin development of the data exchange web application, which will enable the industry to publish metadata about their data, get data and links, find Orange Button standards, and connect with industry players who have solar information. If you are interested in learning more about the Orange Button Data Exchange, please contact Debbie Brodt-Giles at

kWh Analytics, as an award designee under Area C, invested heavily into the development of the Orange Button standard in 2016. KWH collaborated closely with the Area A and Area B teams to provide input and guidance on the development of the standard. KWH leveraged its depth of experience working with established industry investors in shaping the Orange Button standard to reflect the actual needs of the investor community, while also helping craft the standard with a lens to the data availability and existing taxonomies learned from the company's deep technical engagement with leading solar developers.

In an effort to develop a Solar Data Translation Platform (SDTP), which is able to ingest data in their current forms and translate them into the Orange Button standard for use by other applications, KWH has also been developing the technical infrastructure for the SDTP with an initial emphasis on the extraction of data from various file formats and the user experience for interfacing with the software. Once the Orange Button standard has been completed, KWH will finalize the product development to include data export and move into beta testing and release of the software package. As part of the 2016 product roadmap, the SDTP has been configured to work with multiple data formats and the extraction speed has been improved by an order of 100x.

If you are interested in participating in the beta test or interested to learn more about the SDTP, please contact Jason Kaminsky at