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.

Meet a Solar Expert: Phillip Beiter and Anthony Lopez

May 2, 2016 by Alexandra Aznar

This STAT Chat podcast features Phillip Beiter and Anthony Lopez from the Strategic Analysis Center as part of the Meet a Solar Expert series, a behind the scenes look at solar industry professionals. Continue reading

Life Cycle Assessment and Photovoltaic (PV) Recycling: Designing a More Sustainable Energy System

April 19, 2016 by Brandon Kiger

What happens to solar panels and materials after their useful life? What role does recycling play in the lifecycle of photovoltaic (PV) systems? Is it possible to design PV in a “cradle to cradle”[1] approach so that materials are designed with the purpose of being reused, upcycled, or recycled to a safe and useable material instead of ending up in landfills? From 2010 to the 2nd-quarter of 2015, the U.S. has cumulatively installed 19,884 MWdc of PV in the residential, non-residential, and utility markets[2] Given the growth in solar installations over the last five years, exploring these questions is prudent for designing a more sustainable energy system. Continue reading

Batteries 101 Series: How to Talk About Batteries and Power-To-Energy Ratios

April 13, 2016 by Joyce McLaren

This series explains more about batteries and the power-to-energy ratios. This is the second part of a two-part series. Read part one of the series.

As solar and other renewable energy technologies become more mainstream, the public becomes more familiar with the language of photovoltaics (PV).  Even if most people don't have a thorough understanding of how it works, homeowners with a PV system may know the difference between the rated capacity of the system (expressed in kilowatts) and the amount of electricity that the system actually produces (expressed in kilowatt-hours). Homeowners may be confident explaining their 5-kilowatt system produces about 7,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Continue reading

Batteries 101 Series: Use Cases and Value Streams for Energy Storage

March 25, 2016 by Joyce McLaren

This series explains the basics of batteries for energy storage as well as providing an overview of relevant topics to help readers understand the applications of batteries.  This is the first part of a two-part series. Continue reading

Top Five Large-Scale Solar Myths

Feb. 3, 2016 by Megan Day

As large-scale solar facilities proliferate throughout the country, more communities are considering the potential merits and drawbacks of this new kind of neighbor. Initial reactions to the prospect of large-scale photovoltaic (PV) facilities or solar farms tend to include a myriad of misperceptions. Continue reading

SPARC Initiative Targets Your Community; Early Adopters Win

Dec. 9, 2015 by Erin Nobler

Here at the STAT Network, we’re always looking to provide states and local governments with more opportunities to reduce barriers to solar deployment. We’re excited to be a part of a new solar effort.

Our partners at The Solar Foundation (TSF) and International City/County Management Association (ICMA) just launched the Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) initiative. YOU may be eligible to receive technical assistance through their program! Continue reading

Solar Ready Vets for Solar Ready Communities

Nov. 11, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

Flourishing state and local solar markets demand a skilled workforce capable of meeting industry demands. The solar industry employs professionals across various sectors: manufacturing, installation, sales and distribution, and project development. And, according to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Job’s Census, job growth in the solar industry has taken off in the past five years with 2014 numbers showing that the solar industry added jobs “at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy.” Continue reading

The RAPID Toolkit: Facilitating Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Development

Aug. 10, 2015 by Megan Day

The Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit provides information about federal, state, and local permitting and regulations for utility-scale renewable energy and transmission projects—including large-scale solar projects in certain areas. In particular, the RAPID Toolkit now includes federal permitting information applicable in any state and state-level permitting requirements in California and Nevada for large-scale solar projects. Continue reading

City-Level Energy Decision Making: Examples from 20 Cities

June 25, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

Cities in the United States are increasingly taking action to improve the sustainability of their jurisdictions. Efficient energy use and clean energy are a fundamental component of the cost of living and mitigating and adapting to climate change, and therefore central to improving community long-term sustainability. A team of analysts with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) project analyzed sustainability and climate plans and interviewed staff from 20 U.S. cities (Figure 1) to understand the extent to which cities use data in energy planning, implementation, and evaluation. City energy goals, actions, policies implemented in pursuit of those goals, and measurements of progress toward the goals were catalogued in this research. Continue reading

SAPC Finalizes Two Best Practices Documents

May 28, 2015 by Brandon Kiger

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group has finalized two documents designed to mitigate investor and owner risk and to generate confidence in the distributed solar PV asset class: Best Practices for PV System Installation and Best Practices for PV System O&M .  The documents were developed over the past two years, using input from a diverse group of stakeholders including developers, financiers, independent engineers, and rating agencies. Continue reading