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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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Are Cities Codifying Clean Energy Policy? The Answer is Yes

January 24, 2017 by

Cities, or municipalities, account for over 70% of worldwide energy consumption. In the United States, city governments have authority over functions such as land-use, building development, transportation, and a variety of other policy areas that can impact energy use. Cities have used this authority to create incentives for the development of clean energy within their jurisdictions through planning, programming, and codification. Codification refers to the process whereby cities establish city ordinances, or laws. Codification can offer more certainty that policy goals will be achieved, given that repealing ordinances typically requires a vote by city government. Continue reading

Floating Solar Photovoltaics Gaining Ground

January 24, 2017 by

Floating solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, so-called flotovoltaics (a trademarked term) or floating solar, represent an emerging application in which PV panels are sited on bodies of water. The PV panel technology used for floating solar applications is very similar to traditional ground-mounted PV, the primary difference being the platforms that the PV technology rests on float in water. Continue reading

Solar Insights from the 2016 RPS Summit

January 2, 2017 by

Over the past decade, state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) have been one of the most effective ways to advance solar and other clean energy technologies at the state level. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have RPS policies, which require utilities and other electricity suppliers to procure a specified portion of their electricity supply from renewable energy. The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has worked with many of the RPS program managers as part of the RPS Collaborative. Continue reading

New Report Estimates the Carbon Abatement Potential of City Energy Actions

December 27, 2016 by

Cities, as the primary enforcers and implementers of policy at the local level, are uniquely positioned to drive reductions in energy costs and local greenhouse gas pollution within the building and transportation sectors. U.S. cities are already taking action to reduce energy consumption, expenditures, and associated greenhouse gas pollution. Now, in a new report, Estimating the National Carbon Abatement Potential of City Policies: A Data-Driven Approach, NREL estimates the carbon abatement potential of six commonly implemented city actions: building codes, building energy efficiency programs, smart growth, public transit, solar photovoltaics (PV), and municipal “lead-by-example” actions (see descriptions in Figure 1). Continue reading

FERC Ruling Paves Way for Increased Local Renewable Energy Generation

December 26, 2016 by

In June 2016 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a ruling that paves the way for municipal and cooperative utilities to procure additional, local renewable energy generating capacity. Continue reading

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

December 7, 2016 by

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

State RPS Policies in Focus: Assessing RPS Policy Activity during the 2015-2016 Legislative Session

December 7, 2016 by

The 2015-2016 legislative sessions are coming to a close across the states and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) have had renewed policy activity (See Figure 1). Since the start of 2015, six states have enacted new or more stringent RPS policies, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont (See Figure 1). Continue reading

Economic and Environmental Considerations Drive State Innovation in GHG Initiatives

November 22, 2016 by

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

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

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

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