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NREL Conduit Blog

The NREL Conduit Blog discusses research relevant to state, local, and tribal governments. Contributing authors provide posts related to events, policy analysis, and decision support outcomes to inform the market in a credible and timely fashion.

Check the Stack

October 30, 2019 by Jeffrey J. Cook

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, it took 11 months to restore power to all citizens. Hospitals and other critical facilities, such as police stations and water treatment plants, had to close or reduce services in the aftermath of the Category 5 storm, which has been associated with thousands of deaths.

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Floating Solar Photovoltaics Could Make a Big Splash in the USA

July 29, 2019 by Laura Beshilas

A floating solar photovoltaic (FPV) system is an emerging technology in which a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is placed directly on top of a body of water, as opposed to on land or on building rooftops. Continue reading

Fuel Cell Electric Buses in the USA

June 25, 2019 by Laura Beshilas, NREL

In the United States, the  average age  of a full-sized transit bus in the United States is 7 years and the average  retirement policy for 40-foot transit buses is 12 years. Therefore, many transit buses in the country are on track to be replaced. Conventional buses have substantial emissions and low levels of fuel efficiency. Continue reading

Community Energy Storage: A New Revenue Stream for Utilities and Communities?

September 24, 2018 by Kyle Flanegin

Although "it depends" is often the correct answer when asking whether energy storage makes sense in a particular context, utilities are exploring opportunities to incorporate community energy storage (CES) systems into the local grid. Utility-owned CES systems are a collection of two or more battery storage units connected to the low-level transformers that serve houses or small businesses. Continue reading

Can Low-and-Moderate Income Households Play a Role in Realizing U.S. Rooftop Solar Technical Potential?

September 12, 2018 by Kyle Flanegin

Until recently, the technical potential—or the maximum generation potential from DPV systems—for LMI residential rooftops was not well understood. However, a recent NREL report, “Rooftop Solar Technical Potential for Low-to-Moderate Income Households in the United States” explores this issue by evaluating DPV potential on residential rooftops by income levels. Continue reading

PV Survivability from Hurricanes: Lessons Learned

September 06, 2018 by Eliza Hotchkiss

Last year, two Category 5 storms, Hurricanes Irma and Maria, ripped through the Caribbean within a two-week period, devastating island communities.  Hurricane Irma hit the U.S. territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) on September 6th, 2017, with the eye passing over St. Thomas and St. John. On September 20th, the eye of Hurricane Maria swept near St. Croix with maximum winds of 175 mph. The USVI estimate uninsured losses at close to $7.5 billion, including damages to roughly 80-90% of the power transmission and distribution systems and a number of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation systems.

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Research and Analysis Demonstrate the Lack of Impacts of Glare from Photovoltaic Modules

July 31, 2018 by Megan Day and Benjamin Mow

Local objections to proposed solar photovoltaic (PV) installations sometimes include concerns that the modules will cause glare that could impact neighbors or aviation. Research on this subject demonstrates that PV modules exhibit less glare than windows and water. Continue reading

Community Solar: Lifting the Energy Burden on Low-Income Households

July 02, 2018 by Douglas Gagne

For many households, utility bills represent a disproportionate share of their household expenses. The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) defines households as energy burdened if they spend more than 4% of their annual income on utility bills (CEO 2015). Based on research performed by the U.S. Census Bureau and compiled by the CEO, roughly 30% of households in Colorado are energy burdened (Figure 1), and many of these households have expenditures that exceed 10% of their income. State energy offices, such as the CEO, are exploring approaches to reduce energy burden across the U.S. NREL’s Solar Technical Assistance Team worked with the CEO to evaluate their innovative approach: a low-income community solar program. Continue reading

Solar on Every Home? Roadmap Outlines Pathways to Ultra-Low Cost Residential Solar

June 19, 2018 by Jeffrey J. Cook

If the solar industry reaches this DOE target, it could dramatically alter the energy market and present a future where residential PV becomes a standard, cost-effective home installation, versus a luxury or long-term investment. A recent NREL report models a set of pathways that the industry could follow to realize this future. The analysis focuses on two key markets for residential PV cost reduction: installing PV at time of roof replacement and installing PV at time of new construction. These two market segments were selected because each offers significant cost reduction opportunities while representing a 30 gigawatt (GW) annual market nationwide. Continue reading