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Solar STAT Blog

The Solar STAT blog discusses state and local efforts to develop solar markets in the United States. With support from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, NREL’s Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) authors weekly posts related to events, solar policy analysis, and technical assistance outcomes for the purpose of informing the market in a credible and timely fashion.

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Taking Stock of the Solar Market in 2015

September 19, 2016 by

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

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 6, 2016 by

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 2, 2016 by

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

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.[1] 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

Assessing the Impact of State Green Banks on Solar Deployment

July 20, 2016 by

Though the distributed residential and commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) market continues to expand year over year, it has been largely limited to certain subsets of each market. On the residential side, expansion has been driven by residential homeowners with higher incomes, and commercial expansion has been driven by large corporations such as Walmart, Google, Target, and Apple. Continue reading

Communing with Frontrunners: 100% Renewable

July 20, 2016 by

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 8, 2016 by

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

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 2, 2016 by

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

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