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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.

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.

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Which Communities Lead in Solar Energy Generation?

January 06, 2016 by Megan Day

Surprise! It’s not wealthy enclaves or college towns but often small communities with solar farms leading the way.

Recent NREL research analyzed the installed solar capacity in municipalities across six states and found that the communities generating the most solar energy per capita are smaller communities with fewer but larger solar installations. In addition, the study found that these leading solar communities are generally at or below state averages in education attainment and income levels—dispelling a common perception that wealthy or highly educated communities generate more solar energy.

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New Regulations, New Technology, and a New Grid? Takeaways from the 2015 NASEO Annual Meeting

October 02, 2015 by Alexandra Aznar

Sunny San Diego welcomed state energy officials and their affiliates to the 2015 National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) annual meeting September 13-16. The theme was “Interconnected: Smart Energy Policies, Clean Energy Investments, and the Cloud.” As an affiliate, I had the opportunity to share information about state and local clean energy  policies as well as the types of technical assistance the Solar Technical Assistance Team  (STAT) provides to state-level decision makers.  Several themes emerged from the whirlwind of presentations, discussions, and one-on-one conversations with participants. Continue reading

Energy Storage Dialogue Continues as Tesla Announces New Strategy for Stationary Applications

May 08, 2015 by Megan Mercer

Behind-the-meter storage, also known as on-site distributed energy storage, is currently a small market. However, companies like Tesla are trying to make big waves in its deployment. Continue reading

Hot Topics: Community Solar Gardens

February 12, 2015 by Alexis Powers, Erin Nobler, John De La Rosa, Sherry Stout

This STAT Chat podcast features Jason Coughlin, a solar analyst and financing expert at NREL, discussing current approaches to community or shared solar programs. Continue reading

How Solar PV Can Support Disaster Resiliency

February 03, 2015 by Eliza Hotchkiss

When Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast of the United States, New Jersey was ranked second in the country for solar photovoltaic (PV) implementation—only behind California. However, when millions of New Jerseyans were without power after the storm, only two PV systems in the state were operational. Continue reading

Solar Technical Assistance in Action: Delaware's Inverter Story

January 30, 2015 by Sherry Stout

Under U.S. law, individual states can evaluate and modify interconnection and net metering policies and regulations based on changes in technology. Due to the increasing complexity of new photovoltaic (PV) technologies, one of the most popular requests received by NREL's Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) is for help with understanding and evaluating solar interconnection and net metering policy options. Continue reading

In the Field: Solar Policy in Vermont

January 05, 2015 by Alexis Powers, Erin Nobler, John De La Rosa, Sherry Stout

This STAT Chat podcast features Andrew Perchlik, director of the Vermont Department of Public Service Clean Energy Development Fund, discussing the current renewable energy policy climate in Vermont. Continue reading

Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Net Metering and Distributed Solar

December 10, 2014 by Alexandra Aznar

Most states have implemented net energy metering (NEM) policies to value the contributions of distributed generation photovoltaics (DGPV) to the electricity grid. Continue reading