Round 3 of the Solar Energy Innovation Network

The third round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network will focus on efforts to overcome barriers to equitable adoption of solar in underserved communities.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation, which has seen dramatic market growth over the past decade, can help address climate change and provide benefits such as electricity bill reduction, job creation, and local resiliency for households, organizations, and businesses. However, solar deployment to date has skewed toward some communities and demographics.

For example, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that in 2019 the median income of households that adopt solar is significantly higher than that of the average U.S. household. Research published in Nature Sustainability found that black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed significantly less rooftop PV than no-majority and white-majority tracts.

To successfully and equitably address climate change, it is critical that residents, organizations, and businesses in underserved communities have the opportunity to leverage the benefits that solar energy can provide to meet their needs.

Round 3 of the Innovation Network will focus on overcoming barriers to equitable solar PV adoption in underserved communities. To drive the innovation necessary to meet this challenge, Round 3 teams will focus on one of two topics:

  • Topic A: Elevating equity in residential solar deployment
    This topic is focused on developing solutions that expand equity in residential, behind-the-meter solar deployment.
  • Topic B: Elevating equity in commercial-scale solar deployment
    This topic is focused on expanding equity in solar deployment at the commercial-scale, such as at offices, warehouses, hospitals, hotels, retail stores, schools, nonprofits, or higher-education facilities. This topic applies only to commercial-scale solar that is sited within underserved communities.

The application window for Round 3 of the Innovation Network closed on June 15, 2021. NREL is currently considering submitted applications. Selected teams will receive technical assistance and facilitation support from experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and its partners, frequent opportunities to collaborate with other teams working on similar issues, and up to $200,000 to pilot ideas.