NREL examines solar policy pathways for states

March 11, 2014

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report that aligns solar policy and market success with state demographics. By organizing the 48 contiguous states into four peer groups based on shared non-policy characteristics, the NREL research team was able to contextualize the impact of various solar policies on photovoltaic (PV) installations.

"Although it is widely accepted that solar policies drive market development, there has not been a clear understanding of which policies work in which context," lead author Darlene Steward said. "This study provides much-needed insight into the policy scope and quality that is needed to spur solar PV markets across the United States."

The report, "The Effectiveness of State-Level Policies on Solar Market Development in Different State Contexts," includes statistical and empirical analyses to assess policy impacts in different situations. In addition, four case histories augment the quantitative analytics within each state grouping, specifically:

  • Expected leaders. In Maryland, a comprehensive policy portfolio with equal emphasis on all policy types is driving recent market development.
  • Rooftop rich. In North Carolina, strong interest in clean energy-related policy distinguishes it from other states.
  • Motivated buyers. Delaware's experience illustrates how targeted market preparation and creation policies can effectively stimulate markets.
  • Mixed. In New Mexico, the leading state for installed capacity in its peer group, policy diversity and strategic implementation have proven to be critical in effectively supporting the market.

The analysis shows that the effectiveness of solar policy is influenced by demographic factors such as median household income, solar resource availability, electricity prices, and community interest in renewable energy. The data also show that it's the number and the make-up of the policies that spur solar PV markets. Follow-on research expected for release this summer identifies the most effective policy development strategies for each state context and provides strategies for to take action.

As part of a larger effort to determine the most successful policy strategies for state governments, this report builds on previous research investigating the effect of the order in which policies are implemented. The stacking theory, which is outlined in the "Strategic Sequencing for State Distributed PV Policies" report, aims to draw private investors to develop PV markets.

Explore further: NREL releases new roadmap to reducing solar PV 'soft costs' by 2020

More information: www.energy.gov/sunshot

Related Stories

Strong state alcohol policies protective against binge drinking

December 10, 2013

According to a new study, a novel composite measure consisting of 29 alcohol policies demonstrates that a strong alcohol policy environment is a protective factor against binge drinking in the U.S. The study was led by researchers ...

Recommended for you

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

December 9, 2016

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.