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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.

Three Things State and Local Governments Could Do To Grow Midscale (100kW-2MW) Solar PV

December 07, 2016 by Jenny Heeter

The midscale market for solar photovoltaics (PV), defined as behind-the-meter systems between 100 kilowatt (kW) and 2 Megawatt (MW), has grown more slowly than other PV market segments in recent years. However, there is room for significant expansion of the midscale solar market, with a new NREL analysis showing that offices, hotels, and warehouses offer more than 100 Gigawatt (GW) of techno-economic potential (Figure 1).[1] Continue reading

Economic and Environmental Considerations Drive State Innovation in GHG Initiatives

November 22, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

The Washington Department of Ecology published the Clean Air Rule on September 15, 2016, becoming the 11th state to adopt a market-based cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Washington joins California and nine northeastern states in adopting such a program (Figure 1). Continue reading

Solar for Everyone: Increasing Low-and-Moderate Income (LMI) Populations' Access to Solar Power

November 17, 2016 by Alison Holm

Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provide a wide range of potential benefits, including long-term energy cost savings, power grid resiliency [1] and reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – which has positive implications for both human and environmental health. Access to distributed solar power remains elusive for a significant slice of the U.S. population, particularly low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. Continue reading

Taking Stock of the Solar Market in 2015

September 19, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

Each year the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) publishes separate national solar market reports relating to distributed and utility-scale solar. The most recent reports were published in August 2016 and offer a trove of data relating to these markets as they stood in 2015. This blog article highlights some of the major developments in the market as they relate to national trends in installations and costs. First, researchers at LBNL have tracked historical solar capacity additions since 2007, as illustrated in Figure 1. Utility-scale installations, utility-scale photovoltaics (PV) in particular, have historically been the largest driver of capacity expansion. LBNL, along with other market experts, anticipate this trend will continue through 2021. Continue reading

Cities-LEAP Analysis Reveals Findings on the Most Efficient and Least Polluting Cities in the U.S.

September 12, 2016 by Megan Day

Cities need timely, comprehensive, localized energy data to make informed energy decisions. More often than not that data is simply unavailable, until now.  The Department of Energy’s Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) project recently developed a city energy profile for every U.S. city, including estimates of: Continue reading

New Strides in the Residential PACE Space

September 06, 2016 by Nate Hausman

While the costs of solar photovoltaics (PV) have decreased considerably over the last decade,[1] many customers still need long-term, low-cost financing to make going solar affordable. Financing mechanisms like leases, loans, and power purchase agreements spread out the initial cost of residential solar installations over a term of years.

Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) offers another solution for homeowners to pay for a solar investment over time.

Continue reading

Solar Consumer Protection Reflections and Resource Selections

September 02, 2016 by Nate Hausman

The U.S. distributed solar market has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. [1] Over seventy- times the residential solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was installed in the U.S. in 2015 (2,099 MW) as was installed in 2005 (27 MW). [2] While the significant opportunities for gainful enterprise in the residential PV economy signal solar market health, they have also brought consumer-focused issues to the fore. Policymakers, regulators, advocacy groups, and the solar industry are giving increasing attention to ensuring that consumers receive accurate information and ultimately have good experiences with solar energy installation. A number of new resources are intended to help further residential solar understanding. Continue reading

Tracking State Efforts to Foster Economic Development through Clean Energy Research and Development Agencies

August 25, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

In 2015, Virginia enacted SB 1099 establishing the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority within the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to, among other stipulations, foster solar deployment, jobs, and economic development within the state. Ultimately, state governments are active in implementing clean energy-related economic development policies with the intention of driving job growth and manufacturing in their respective states. Virginia's approach to house all of these activities within one entity is an emerging trend across the states. This article documents the range of similar public organizations and their programs across the country, to inform policymakers considering a more comprehensive clean energy-related economic development approach, while also documenting potential research, development, and commercialization partners for the solar industry. Continue reading

Communing with Frontrunners: 100% Renewable

July 20, 2016 by Elizabeth Doris

Last week I had the great honor of presenting about U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NREL data, tools, and analysis available to jurisdictions considering how to get to 100% Renewable at the Ready for 100 dialogue hosted by the Sierra Club, Renewable Cities, and ICLEI USA. Elected officials and staff from 20 cities attended the meeting, representing different points along the trajectory of getting to the 100% Renewable goal. Continue reading

Top five sources for solar data available at EIA

July 08, 2016 by Cara Marcy

Have you ever searched for solar energy data and didn’t know where to begin? Maps of solar power plants, installed solar capacity growth over time, projections for solar growth—this kind of information can be valuable to state policymakers trying to understand their solar landscape and craft policies to meet jurisdictional energy goals. One source policymakers can turn to for information about all energy sources, including solar, is the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Continue reading