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Solar STAT Blog

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

When Does Energy Storage Make Sense? It Depends.

February 25, 2018 by Lars Lisell

Energy storage can be confusing. The technology adds value to electrical systems by charging when there is excess energy on the system, storing the power until it is required, then discharging when the energy system requires additional energy. Unlike traditional generators that turn fuel into electricity, an energy storage system is used to move energy around. A few common applications for energy storage include moving energy use from a period of low consumption to a period of high consumption, storing renewable generation to be used at night, or storing grid power to be used during periods of grid outage. For an energy storage system to make economic sense, the value of providing this service to a facility or the electrical system must exceed the cost of the energy storage system. How can a consumer determine if an energy storage system makes sense for a facility? The answer often lies in the utility bill. Continue reading

The Solar Energy Trifecta: Solar + Storage + Net Metering

February 12, 2018 by Benjamin Mow

Pairing solar-plus-storage with net metering has received minimal policy attention to-date because energy storage has, until recently, seen limited deployment. While this policy question may seem obscure, it is starting to pop up in other states as pairing energy storage with solar energy systems becomes more economical. Continue reading

Charting the Emergence of Corporate Procurement of Utility-Scale PV

December 26, 2017 by Jeffrey J. Cook

Though most large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment has been driven by utility compliance with renewable portfolio standards, in recent years a growing share of demand is coming from corporations and other institutions. Voluntary corporate procurement of utility-scale PV has increased from less than 1% of total PV procurement in 2014, to 9% in 2016 and 17% through July 2017. Continue reading

Smart Grid, Smart Inverters for a Smart Energy Future

December 14, 2017 by Benjamin Mow

Smart grid infrastructure can provide the technology necessary to reliably attain high levels of solar integration in the United States’ electric grid—so what, exactly, is a smart grid? Continue reading

Back to Basics: Unraveling How Distributed Generation is Compensated and Why It's Important

November 28, 2017 by Alexandra Aznar

Amid the surge of recent net-metering evaluations and proposed program changes at the state level (e.g. Nevada, Utah, New York), it can be useful to step back and consider some fundamental issues at play. What is net metering?—seems like such an easy question to answer, but there is a surprising amount of diverse terminology and parlance surrounding this concept. Continue reading

Solar Power in Manufactured Housing Communities

November 20, 2017 by Benjamin Mow

Efforts to expand solar access to harder-to-reach markets have been the focus of dedicated low- and moderate-income (LMI) solar policies and programs over the past several years. Community solar programs and various financing mechanisms have been enacted at the state and local levels to extend solar access across diverse populations. Continue reading

Cities Partner with NREL to Forge Pathways from Energy Data to Decision Making

November 13, 2017 by Megan Day

Cities are increasingly interested in pursuing a clean energy future. Many are setting ambitious goals to use clean, renewable energy or reduce air pollution from energy consumption. The challenge lies in establishing metrics, prioritizing actions, and targeting scarce resources in the most cost effective and strategic ways. Continue reading

State, Local and University Decision-Makers Dive Deep with STAT Solar Tools Workshop

November 08, 2017 by Lars Lisell

What are the cash flow and performance predictions associated with a proposed solar project? What combination of energy technologies and storage options will help my community meet its energy goals? How many people might adopt distributed energy technologies in my jurisdiction under different policy scenarios? These are just some of the questions that state and local decision-makers are grappling with in evaluating solar energy development strategies. Continue reading

How Is Solar PV Performing in Hurricane-struck Locations?

October 24, 2017 by Eliza Hotchkiss

The ongoing 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has already been the most active since 2005. Hurricane Harvey, classified as a Category 4 storm, made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25th with winds topping 130 mph and inundating the City of Houston with over 50 inches of rain in some areas, claiming upwards of 30 lives. Seventy percent of surrounding Harris County was covered with more than a foot of water, which flooded roughly 136,000 buildings. 

Continue reading

Call for Applications: Solar PV Training Program for City and County Staff

October 09, 2017 by Alison Holm

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, is launching a training program for city and county staff to learn about putting solar on their facilities, whether it’s on municipal buildings or owned land. Continue reading