Skip navigation to main content.
NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
About NRELEnergy AnalysisScience and TechnologyTechnology TransferTechnology DeploymentEnergy Systems Integration

Contextual Factors Affecting State Renewable Energy Development

Factors Affecting Renewable Energy Markets

The State of the States 2009 analysis identifies contextual factors that set the stage for renewable energy development. These existing natural resource, economic, environmental, and social conditions define the framework for renewable energy markets, acting as either barriers or accelerators.

State policymakers who understand contextual factors are in a better position to design and implement policies with beneficial outcomes for their states. Each state has a unique set of contextual factors. The particular mix determines which policies should be implemented to optimize the deployment of renewable energy resources.

Renewable Energy Contextual Factors

The 14 contextual factors identified as having a positive, negative, or neutral impact on state renewable energy development include:

  • Resource availability — the natural resources that exist in a state that can be used to produce renewable energy

  • Technology availability — the commercial availability of technically proven renewable energy hardware

  • Technology cost — the cost of building and maintaining renewable energy facilities

  • Energy costs — prices paid by consumers for energy produced from renewable energy and competing power generation technologies

  • Economic factors — economic health of a state and energy consumers in that state

  • Project financing options — financing mechanisms to fund renewable energy installations

  • Ownership options — project ownership structures that allow for maximum use of available incentives

  • Transmission issues — transmission lines and infrastructure that transport electricity from the renewable resource power production location to end-use electricity markets

  • Environmental considerations — the impacts of renewable energy on the natural environment

  • Institutional structures — the attitudes and policies of existing utility companies and regulatory organizations toward renewable energy

  • Land-use issues and constraints — land availability and land-use laws and zoning

  • Information dissemination — the availability of information about renewable energy technologies, resource availability, financial incentives, and regulatory hurdles in a state

  • Social acceptance — public support for, or opposition to, renewable energy development

  • Larger policy context — federal action on incentives and regulatory issues that set the background for how states implement renewable energy policies.

For more information on these contextual factors and the state policies that can be effective within their framework, see Chapter 5 of "State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy".