Energy Justice in Solar Adoption

To help communities and organizations advance energy justice and equity in solar adoption, NREL’s research and analysis has yielded a range of resources.

A graphic shows three statistics on how residential solar adopters differ compered to their neighbors. Adopters are 15% more likely to identify as non-Hispanic white, 27% more likely to have a college degree, and have a 54% higher income than their county average.
* Data from "Residential Solar-Adopter Income and Demographic Trends: November 2022 Update" (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Together, NREL’s solar research and analysis further the lab’s energy justice mission to prioritize equitable distribution of social, economic, and health benefits and burdens across all segments of society. NREL solar researchers partner with communities and community-based organizations to better understand how solar energy can meet their needs and to help remove barriers that have prevented equal access to solar energy opportunities.  Concurrently, NREL’s solar energy analysts publish a wide variety of guides, technical reports, fact sheets, and tools to support equity-driven planning and decision-making to implement equitable solar solutions.

NREL designed these energy justice resources to benefit various solar adoption stakeholders.

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Local Governments

Counties, cities, and other authorities having jurisdiction over local decision-making.

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American Indian or Alaska Native Tribes, Tribal energy development organizations, and other Tribal groups.

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State and Federal Policymakers

Agency or department staff and lawmakers at the state and federal levels.

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Electric utilities and utility regulators.

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PV Developers

Entities that develop or operate utility- and residential-scale PV systems.

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Community Organizations

Local nonprofits, houses of worship, and other community-focused groups.

Energy Justice Resources

Resource Title Resource Type Description Stakeholder Type
Affordable and Accessible Solar for All: Barriers, Solutions, and On-Site Adoption Potential Publication Details barriers to affordable solar access, modeling methods for on-site solar adoption, and strategies that may be used to address challenges in solar adoption for low- and moderate-income households. State and Federal Policymakers, Utilities
Low- and Moderate-Income Solar Policy Basics Webpage Summarizes policy options to support energy justice initiatives, including a list of free resources for local governments and other organizations looking to adopt solar and other clean energy solutions. State and Federal Policymakers, Local Governments
National Community Solar Partnership — U.S. Department of Energy Program Provides funding and research to implement community solar solutions; and aims to expand access to affordable community solar options to communities that will benefit from reduced energy burden, increased energy resilience, community ownership, and equitable workforce development. State and Federal Policymakers, Local Governments, Tribes, Community Organizations, Utilities, PV Developers
Solar Energy Innovation Network Program Assembles teams of stakeholders from communities to develop transformative solutions for adopting solar energy, including equity in underserved communities. Community Organizations, Utilities, Tribes, Local Governments, PV Developers
Solar Energy Innovation Network — Assistance for Early Adopters Technical Support Offers targeted technical assistance to help communities and organizations across the country adopt and apply insights. Community Organizations, Utilities, Tribes, Local Governments, PV Developers
Solar Energy Innovation Network — Publications Publication Publications produced for the Solar Energy Innovation Network program. Community Organizations, Utilities, Local Governments, PV Developers
Solar Power in Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments Publication Provides ideas to support the growing interest and need for equitable solar solutions at the local level, including tips on how to implement programs and specific examples from all over the United States that highlight local communities' experiences enacting solar strategies. State and Federal Policymakers, Community Organizations, Local Governments
SLOPE: State and Local Planning for Energy Data or Tool Enables state and local energy stakeholders to make data-driven decisions about clean energy, including building more equitable access to the benefits of a clean energy economy and ensuring affordable solutions for communities that are over-burdened by energy costs. State and Federal Policymakers, Local Governments
SolarAPP+: Solar Automated Permitting Processing Data or Tool Eases the solar permitting process, which can be a major barrier to underserved communities, making it faster and cheaper for homeowners to go solar by decreasing solar soft costs. Local Governments, Tribes
National Community Solar Partnership Technical Assistance — U.S. Department of Energy Technical Support Supports the rapid deployment of affordable and accessible community solar through free, rolling technical assistance. State and Federal Policymakers, Local Governments, Tribes, Community Organizations, Utilities, PV Developers
Tribal Solar Initiative — Midwest Tribal Energy Resources Association Program Aims to reduce barriers to solar sdoption on Tribal lands, including identifying and addressing regulatory hurdles with input from regulators, utilities, and Tribes. Tribes, Utilities, State and Federal Policymakers
American-Made Solar Prize — U.S. Department of Energy Prize, Funding Spurs U.S. solar innovation through a series of contests that accelerate the entrepreneurial process, including the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Challenge. PV Developers, Community Organizations
The Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar — U.S. Department of Energy Prize, Funding Recognizes community solar projects and programs that increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities. PV Developers, Community Organizations, Local Governments, Tribes
Community Power Accelerator — U.S. Department of Energy Funding, Technical Support Connects developers, investors, philanthropists, and community-based organizations to work together to get more equitable community solar projects financed and deployed; funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Community Organizations, Local Governments, PV Developers
Solar Futures Study — U.S. Department of Energy Webpage Features key findings from a study exploring solar energy's role in transitioning to a carbon-free electric grid. State and Federal Policymakers, Utilities

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Eric Lockhart

NREL Energy Justice Lead