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The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets

In the report The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets NREL analysts use statistical analysis and detailed case studies to describe why solar market policies are more successful in some states than others. Their findings indicate that while no standard formula for solar implementation exists, the combination of foundational policies and localized strategies can effectively drive solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in any state context.

Report Highlights

  • Both the number of solar policies and the length of time the policies have been in place are important indicators of market success.
  • Support for solar leasing and other increasingly popular third-party ownership models seems to be a distinguishing factor in the success of some states in stimulating robust solar markets—but usually economic factors must also be favorable.
  • States that have matched their suite of best-practice policies to their unique context have excelled.

This report is the third in a series that attempts to determine the relationship between demographic and economic contexts, state policies, and distributed solar installed capacity. Related reports include:


Steward, D.; Doris, E. (2014). The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets. NREL/TP-7A40-62506.


Slide 1: Intro slide
Implementing State and Local Markets
Specific groupings of state policies stimulate distributed PV markets over time.

Slide 2: Animated graph
Y axis: Average Age of the State’s Suite of Policies (years)
X axis: 2007-2012 Installed Capacity (with D.C.) per Person

NREL analysts plotted the installed solar capacity against policy age for a suite of four solar policies in four states.

We found that the longer specific mixes of policies are in place, the more installed solar there is.

NREL finds that most states show a similar trend.

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For more information on NREL's work on policy and solar markets, visit the State and Local Governments website.