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Midscale Commercial Solar Market

NREL experts are providing analysis to expand the midscale solar market. The midscale market for solar photovoltaics (PV), loosely defined as behind-the-meter systems between 100 kilowatts (kW) and 2 megawatts (MW), has grown more slowly than other PV market segments in recent years.

Featured Analysis

Charting the Emergence of Corporate Procurement of Utility-Scale PV

Authors: Jenny Heeter, Jeffrey J. Cook, and Lori Bird

Corporations and other institutions have contracted for more than 2,300 MW of off-site solar, using power purchase agreements (PPAs), green tariffs, or bilateral deals with utilities. This paper examines the benefits, challenges, and outlooks for large-scale off-site solar purchasing in the United States. Pathways differ based on where they are available, the hedge value they can provide, and their ease of implementation. The paper features case studies of an aggregate PPA (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Medical Center, and Post Office Square), a corporation exiting their incumbent utility (MGM Resorts), a utility offering large scale renewables to corporate customers (Alabama Power’s Renewable Procurement Program), and a company with approval to sell energy into wholesale markets (Google Energy Inc.).

Expanding Midscale Solar: Examining the Economic Potential, Barriers, and Opportunities at Offices, Hotels, Warehouses, and Universities

Authors: Lori Bird, Pieter Gagnon, and Jenny Heeter

At 2015 average (50–100 kW) installed prices ($3.20/WDC), the techno-economic potential for the office, hotel, and warehouse segments is substantial, at 44 gigawatts (GW), with about half of that capacity coming from offices (22 GW). With further price declines on par with the 2020 targets of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, the techno-economic potential for these three segments could reach more than 100 GW. An additional 3.7 GW at universities would be "high value"—capacity whose average bill savings would exceed 10¢ per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated.

How to Estimate Demand Charge Savings from PV on Commercial Buildings

Authors: Pieter Gagnon and Lori Bird

Rooftop PV systems are compensated through retail electricity tariffs—and for commercial and industrial customers, these are typically comprised of three components: a fixed monthly charge, energy charges, and demand charges. Of these, PV’s ability to reduce demand charges has traditionally been the most difficult to estimate. In this fact sheet, we explain the basics of demand charges, and provide a new method that a potential customer or PV developer can use to estimate a range of potential demand charge savings for a proposed PV system. These savings can then be added to other project cash flows, in assessing the project’s financial performance.

Midmarket Solar Policies in the United States

To help prospective solar customers understand and use the policies of their state for midsized solar projects, NREL provides an online inventory of policies for each state. This website is based on the 2016 NREL report Midmarket Solar Policies in the United States: A Guide for Midsized Solar Customers, which equips prospective solar customers with the tools necessary to understand and use the solar policies of their state for midmarket solar projects. This inventory serves as an online and up-to-date version of the report's state-by-state summaries. Each state's webpage highlights policy gaps and opportunities in that state's policies that either inhibit or enable midmarket projects.

Resources for Universities

NREL offers a collection of resources for universities seeking to implement solar projects. Supporting the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, these resources are designed to increase PV system deployment at universities, engage stakeholders to develop deployment solutions, and empower decision makers.