Skip to main content

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.

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

In the field: National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO's) 2016 Central Region Meeting

June 22, 2016 by Alexandra Aznar

The central region is a windy corridor of the U.S.; wind resource potential ranks high compared to the rest of the country. As a result, wind deployment in the region has outpaced that of other renewable energy resources. But might solar energy be piquing the interest of central region policymakers? I kept an ear out for answers to that question during the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO’s) 2016 Central Region Meeting, June 7-8 in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to their annual meeting and energy outlook conferences, STAT Network partner NASEO organizes regional meetings (see Figure 1 for regions) where members can share their own state and regional energy issues and meet regional stakeholders in a more intimate setting. Continue reading

Understanding Some Key Differences in Community Solar Policy across the States

June 02, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

Poised to become a major contributor to future growth of the solar market by 2020, community solar programs have been established in 30 states across the country, as illustrated in the figure to the right. This blogpost addresses some of the key policy differences across the 14 states where statewide community solar programs have been enacted or otherwise implemented. Continue reading

The Spot for Clean Energy: A One-Stop Shop for State-by-State Solar Market Analysis

May 09, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

Given the nature of the United States' solar market—with each of the 50 states forging independent paths—the number of distinct solar policies and programs is overwhelming.  For those attempting to wade through all of this data and conduct state-by-state policy and market analyses, the task can be quite cumbersome and intimidating. Until now. Continue reading

SolSmart Launches to Support Local Governments

May 04, 2016 by Erin Nobler

As a member of the Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) network, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provides direct technical assistance to state and local governments on challenges that require solar market expertise. STAT is proud to support other programs that have the same goal, so it’s exciting to see the launch of the SolSmart program. Continue reading

Meet a Solar Expert: Phillip Beiter and Anthony Lopez

May 02, 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

Solar Policy and the 2016 Legislative Session across the States

March 17, 2016 by Jeffrey J. Cook

With the 2016 legislative session well underway, it is valuable to take stock of the legislation addressing solar energy production across various states. The Center for the New Energy Economy’s Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker (AEL Tracker) follows state legislation across ten policy categories. As of February 8th, there were 957 bills in the AEL Tracker unique to the 2016 legislative session. Of those 957, 133 bills, or 14%, directly address solar energy.[1] Continue reading