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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.

Focusing the Sun: State Considerations for Designing Community Solar Policy

April 14, 2018 by Jeffrey J. Cook

A recent NREL report summarizes community solar policies and examines how policy decisions may influence deployment. The report offers state policymakers a list of key questions to help guide their decision-making process when developing new community solar programs or modifying existing ones. Continue reading

STAT FAQs Part 1: Floating Solar

April 04, 2018 by Benjamin Mow

The Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) receives many interesting and broadly applicable questions from state and local governments. The STAT FAQs blog series will highlight pertinent information as it relates to questions STAT receives. The focus of Part 1 in the series is floating solar. Continue reading

Unlocking Solar for Low- and Moderate-Income Residents: A Matrix of Promising Financing Options

March 26, 2018 by Jeffrey J. Cook

The residential solar market has seen robust growth through the expansion of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) and community solar projects. However, low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers have been under-represented among PV adopters, in large part because they face unique barriers including lower credit scores, limited savings to support upfront PV investments, and being more likely to rent than own their homes. Eliminating the impact of barriers could result in more equitable access to PV, while expanding the overall PV market. Continue reading

When Does Energy Storage Make Sense? It Depends.

February 25, 2018 by Lars Lisell

Energy storage can be confusing. The technology adds value to electrical systems by charging when there is excess energy on the system, storing the power until it is required, then discharging when the energy system requires additional energy. Unlike traditional generators that turn fuel into electricity, an energy storage system is used to move energy around. A few common applications for energy storage include moving energy use from a period of low consumption to a period of high consumption, storing renewable generation to be used at night, or storing grid power to be used during periods of grid outage. For an energy storage system to make economic sense, the value of providing this service to a facility or the electrical system must exceed the cost of the energy storage system. How can a consumer determine if an energy storage system makes sense for a facility? The answer often lies in the utility bill. Continue reading

The Solar Energy Trifecta: Solar + Storage + Net Metering

February 12, 2018 by Benjamin Mow

Pairing solar-plus-storage with net metering has received minimal policy attention to-date because energy storage has, until recently, seen limited deployment. While this policy question may seem obscure, it is starting to pop up in other states as pairing energy storage with solar energy systems becomes more economical. Continue reading

Charting the Emergence of Corporate Procurement of Utility-Scale PV

December 26, 2017 by Jeffrey J. Cook

Though most large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment has been driven by utility compliance with renewable portfolio standards, in recent years a growing share of demand is coming from corporations and other institutions. Voluntary corporate procurement of utility-scale PV has increased from less than 1% of total PV procurement in 2014, to 9% in 2016 and 17% through July 2017. Continue reading

Smart Grid, Smart Inverters for a Smart Energy Future

December 14, 2017 by Benjamin Mow

Smart grid infrastructure can provide the technology necessary to reliably attain high levels of solar integration in the United States’ electric grid—so what, exactly, is a smart grid? Continue reading

Back to Basics: Unraveling How Distributed Generation is Compensated and Why It's Important

November 28, 2017 by Alexandra Aznar

Amid the surge of recent net-metering evaluations and proposed program changes at the state level (e.g. Nevada, Utah, New York), it can be useful to step back and consider some fundamental issues at play. What is net metering?—seems like such an easy question to answer, but there is a surprising amount of diverse terminology and parlance surrounding this concept. Continue reading

Solar Power in Manufactured Housing Communities

November 20, 2017 by Benjamin Mow

Efforts to expand solar access to harder-to-reach markets have been the focus of dedicated low- and moderate-income (LMI) solar policies and programs over the past several years. Community solar programs and various financing mechanisms have been enacted at the state and local levels to extend solar access across diverse populations. Continue reading

Cities Partner with NREL to Forge Pathways from Energy Data to Decision Making

November 13, 2017 by Megan Day

Cities are increasingly interested in pursuing a clean energy future. Many are setting ambitious goals to use clean, renewable energy or reduce air pollution from energy consumption. The challenge lies in establishing metrics, prioritizing actions, and targeting scarce resources in the most cost effective and strategic ways. Continue reading