Resource Center

The States Advancing Solar Resource Center is a continuously updated list of reports and other publications regarding solar technologies and state solar programs. The materials listed below are seachable by Title, Author, and by Topic Categories. Please see the Topic Tags for all documents that relate to a particular topic.

Reports and Documents

An Analysis of the Effects of Residential Photovoltaic Energy Systems on Home Sales Prices in California

by Ben Hoen, Ryan Wiser, Peter Cappers, and Mark Thayer, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, LBNL

New research by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds strong evidence that homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems sell for a premium over homes without solar systems.”We find compelling evidence that solar PV systems in California have boosted home sales prices,” says Ben Hoen, the lead researcher on the study and a Principal Research Associate at Berkeley Lab. This report was also funded with support from CESA. LBNL-4476E. April 2011.

Download the Full Report
File Format: PDF
File Source: LBNL

Download the Research Report Summary
File Format: PDF
File Source: LBNL

Solar PV & SHW Market & Legislative Outlook

January 26, 2011 Clean Energy States Alliance hosted its January CESA member-States Advancing Solar joint webinar to take a look at the market and legislative outlook for solar photovoltaic and solar hot water technologies in 2011.

Speakers:

  • Galen Barbose, LBNL
  • Scott Hennessey, Sr. Manager of Government Affairs, SEIA
  • Justin Baca, Sr. Research Analyst, SEIA

Event Materials:

The Solarize Guidebook: A Community Guide to Collective Purchasing of Residential PV Systems

Prepared for and published by NREL, US DOE/EERE. Authors: Linda Irvine, Alex Sawyer and Jennifer Grove, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED). February 2011.

This guidebook is intended as a road map for project planners and solar advocates who want to convert “interest” into “action,” to break through market barriers and permanently transform the market for residential solar installations in their communities. It describes the key elements of the Solarize Portland campaigns in Portland, Oregon: a grassroots effort to help residents overcome the financial and logistical hurdles of installing solar power. Over two years and multiple campaigns, residents of Portland installed over 600 solar electric photovoltaic (PV) systems. Although the success seemed to come out of nowhere, it didn’t just happen overnight. It took a concerted effort by many partners —neighborhood
volunteers, a neighborhood coalition, Energy Trust of Oregon (Energy Trust), the City of Portland, Solar Oregon and solar contractors— to convert customer interest into action. The report offers several program refinements from projects beyond Portland. The guidebook provides lessons, considerations, and step-by-step plans for project organizers to replicate
the success of Solarize Portland.

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
File Source: NREL

A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development

by US Department of Energy, EERE. Authors: Jason Coughlin, Jennifer Grove, Linda Irvine, Janet F. Jacobs, Sarah Johnson Phillips, Leslie Moynihan, and Joseph Wiedman. January2011.

This guide is designed as a resource for those who want to develop community solar projects, from community organizers or solar energy advocates to government officials or utility managers. By exploring the range of incentives and policies while providing examples of operational community solar projects, this guide will help communities to plan and implement successful local energy projects. In addition, by highlighting some of the policy best practices, this guide suggests changes in the regulatory landscape that could significantly boost community solar installations across the country.

This guide is designed as a resource for those who want to develop community solar projects, fromcommunity organizers or solar energy advocates to government officials or utility managers. By exploringthe range of incentives and policies while providing examples of operational community solar projects,this guide will help communities to plan and implement successful local energy projects. In addition, byhighlighting some of the policy best practices, this guide suggests changes in the regulatory landscapethat could significantly boost community solar installations across the country.

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
Source: Solar America Communities

Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments – Second Edition

by U.S. Department of Energy, EERE. in partnership with Solar America Communities. January 2011.

This guide is a comprehensive resource that will help communities accelerate their adoption of solar energy technologies. Additionally, the guide is intended to help communities better understand the steps necessary to permit and license solar energy installations and how to streamline those processes, which can deliver significant savings in the total costs of installing solar systems.

Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments also offers guidance for communities on how to develop a plan for expanding the use of solar energy and ways for local governments to tailor their approach to implementing solar projects based on their community and local circumstances.

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
Source: US DOE

Tracking the Sun III: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998-2009

By Galen Barbose, Naïm Darghouth, and Ryan Wiser; LBNL.

This report provides a comprehensive summary of installed cost trends for grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States from 1998 through 2009, and provides preliminary cost trends for systems installed in 2010.

In addition to describing temporal trends, the report also describes trends in installed costs by system size; by component; between the United States, Germany, and Japan; among individual states; between customer-owned and third party-owned systems; and among customer types, applications, and technologies. The report also describes trends in financial incentive levels over time, by customer type and among states, and the associated impact of those trends on the net installed cost of PV for residential and commercial PV system owners after receipt of incentives.

The report, along with a PowerPoint briefing and associated data file, can be downloaded from: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/re-pubs.html

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
Source: LBNL

WI Focus on Energy Solar Hot Water Incentive Program

State Solar Spotlight:  August 2010


Focus on Energy: Solar Hot Water Incentive Program

Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy program, offers one of the few solar hot water incentive programs in the U.S. targeted specifically at high-end commercial users. Incentives are available for high-volume hot water consumers such as hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and fire stations, and generally cover 20-25% of the installed cost of the system (30-35% for nonprofits) and are based on modeled savings.

Fort Atkinson High School Pool, Solar Hot Water System, 2009

Bonus incentives are available for projects that incorporate efficiency, and adders may also be available from local utilities. Due to the maturation of and increased interest in efficiency and solar technologies in Wisconsin, the incentive levels and procedures for project approval are subject to change in 2011.
  

The levels of incentives provided are one factor in stimulating commercial solar hot water installations in Wisconsin, but other, non-monetary program elements are just as important. These elements include:

  • Technology specificity: Focus on Energy has developed a program just for commercial solar hot water, meaning it is not in competition with other technologies that may meet different objectives (such as PV for electricity generation).
  • Non-competitive, ongoing: As long as funds remain in the program and all elibility criteria are met, commercial solar hot water projects are assured funding in a first-come, first-served manner on a rolling basis.
  • Simple paperwork: Focus on Energy provides a form with detailed instructions for the customer and his or her installer to fill out, requiring all the information that the program administrators will need to determine a project’s eligibility. The installer base has been well-trained to facilitate the submission of this paperwork for approval.
  • Broad applications allowed: Focus allows for systems in situations ranging from hot water to process heating to pools heating, meeting the needs of most potential high-use customers.
  • Assistance offered: Focus helps customers at both the front and the back ends of the process, from offering discounted site assessments, design review, a list of installation requirements, and a preapproved list of contractors to verifying systems post-completion and requiring monitoring systems on larger installations, so the program and the customer can track a system’s effectiveness.

The following chart illustrates the success of the program since its inception:

These incentives have served a wide variety of applications, including:

  • Dentists’ offices
  • Laundromats
  • Landscaping firms
  • Churches
  • Health care clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Public pools
  • Apartments
  • Industrial applications

  

The photo of this Super 8 hotel in Monroe, WI was taken on a January 2009 morning with sub-zero temperatures. The six frosty collectors were installed as a pressurized system, so the fluid had not warmed enough to begin circulation. The controller on the 8-collector drainback system had started the pump to begin circulation for pool heating.

 

Special thanks to Kari  Heinrich, Solar Hot Water Lead,  Focus on Energy for her assistance in preparing this Solar Spotlight.

A PDF file of this program summary can be downloaded by Clicking Here.

State Clean Energy Fund Support for Renewable Energy Projects – Key Findings from the 2008 CESA National Database

by Clean Energy States Alliance and Peregrine Energy Group. This new report from CESA demonstrates how state clean energy funds have emerged as a major driver of renewable energy projects across the U.S. Within the past decade, states from Connecticut to California have funded 52,000 projects using the full range of renewable energy technologies, including wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower. The 10-year voluntary investment by states of $1.9 billion has leveraged $10.1 billion in additional project investment and added 2.5 new, clean gigawatts to the grid. June 2010.

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

State Clean Energy Program Guide: A Review of Emerging State Finance Tools to Advance Solar Generation

by Charles Kubert and Mark Sinclair, Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA). March 2010.

This CESA report provides an overview and specific examples of three creative finance tools that any state can use to support PV in the context of an existing RPS: solar set-asides, feed-in tariffs, and reverse auction mechanisms. These tools are primarily targeted at commercial- and utility-scale projects, and use of any of them can reduce the need for states to provide direct rebates and incentives to PV projects. These tools, if smartly designed, can allow states to build sustainable solar markets with programs that are economically efficient, reward PV system performance, allow for program continuity, advance market transformation and avoid rebate dependency.

The authors contend that providing special treatment to PV projects in the context of an RPS is important if states are to build and maintain public support for their RPS programs, particularly in cases where solar is the most widely accessible in-state renewable energy resource.

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) Guidebook – 3rd Edition

 The California Energy Commission has released publication #CEC-300-2010-001-CMF. This guidebook, adopted by the Energy Commission at its Business Meeting on January 27, 2010, describes the requirements to receive incentives for constructing energy efficient, solar homes under the NSHP.

The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) is part of a comprehensive statewide solar program known as the California Solar Initiative (CSI).The NSHP implements the Energy Commission’s portion of the CSI and provides financial incentives to encourage the installation of eligible, solar energy systems on new residential construction. The Energy Commission will work with builders and developers to incorporate high levels of energy efficiency and high-performing solar systems to help create a self-sustaining solar market.

 The NSHP seeks to achieve 400 megawatts of installed solar electric capacity in California by the end of 2016.

Download the Report (link)
File Type: PDF
Source: California Energy Commission

PA Sunshine Solar Program

The Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Program will provide $100 million in rebates to help fund solar electric (solar photovoltaic, or PV) and solar hot water (solar thermal) projects for homeowners and small businesses in Pennsylvania. This program is authorized by section 306 of the Alternative Energy Investment Act, Act of July 9, 2008 Spec. Sess., No. 1, (P.L. __, No. 1) (73 P.S. 1649.101 et seq.). Funding may also be provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub.L. No. 111-5 (2009).

For more information, please see their website by clicking here.

CA CSI’s MASH Program – Semi-Annual Report

CA CSI’s Multifamily, Affordable, Solar Housing (MASH) program released its first semi-annual report. The MASH Program provides incentives for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) generating systems on low-income multifamily housing in several service territories in CA. Januray 2010.

Download the Report (link)
File Format: PDF
Source: California Public Utilities Commission

Distributed Renewable Energy Finance and Policy Toolkit

Prepared by Charles Kubert and Mark Sinclair, Clean Energy States Alliance, December 2009.

Over the past decade, states have played an increasingly important role in providing financial support to renewable energy projects, with funding often derived from state-established public benefit funds. The financial support tools for renewable energy projects have ranged from rebates to competitive grants to loans. Complementing these tools has been a set of public policies— tax incentives, net metering and interconnection rules, renewable portfolio standards—passed by state legislatures and regulators. Recently, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) also provided significant funding to states to support clean energy investments.

The purpose of this report is to describe the many financing options available to state energy offices, municipal governments, and other energy agencies for utilizing public funds for clean energy project support. The report analyzes their strengths and weaknesses and identifies best practices. One key finding is that, while each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, the use of these tools as a portfolio of approaches creates the most robust, effective programs.

Download the Report
File Format: PDF
File Souce: Clean Energy States Alliance

PV Peer Network Webinar – PV Cost Trends

November 12, 2009
1:00 pmto2:30 pm

Clean Energy Group and Clean Energy States Alliance will host a PV Webinar on LBNL’s recent report, “Tracking the Sun II – The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2008.” Galen Barbose of LBNL, one of the report’s principal authors, will brief attendees on the key findings from the report.

The LBNL report provides a comprehensive summary of installed cost trends for grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States from 1998 through 2008, updating an earlier report that contained data through 2007. The updated report is based on project-level data from more than 52,000 residential and non-residential PV systems, totaling 566 MW of capacity and representing 71% of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the U.S. through 2008. These data were provided by 27 PV incentive programs spanning 16 states.

The report finds that average installed costs have declined over time, from $10.8/W in 1998 to $7.5/W in 2008 (in real 2008 dollars per installed watt DC).  Importantly, average costs declined by approximately $0.3/W from 2007 to 2008, following several preceding years (2005-2007) when they remained essentially flat.  The cost reductions from 2007 to 2008 were associated with a decline in module costs, in contrast to earlier years when cost reductions were associated primarily with a decline in non-module costs.

The report also finds evidence of sizable economies of scale among the PV systems in our sample, significant variation in average installed cost among states, and cost advantages for PV installed in residential new construction relative to the retrofit market.  The report also describes trends in financial incentive levels over time, by customer type and among states, and the associated impact of these trends on the net installed cost of PV for residential and commercial PV system owners after receipt of incentives.

The report can be downloaded here: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/re-pubs.html.

If you would like to register for this November 12thwebinar, please send an email to maria@cleanegroup.org with “PV Cost Trends Webinar” in the subject line and include your contact information; the call in information will be provided at that time.

Tracking the Sun II – The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. form 1998 – 2008

by Ryan Wiser, Galen Barbose, Carla Peterman, Naim Darghouth, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, October 2009.

This report provides a comprehensive summary of installed cost trends for grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States from 1998 through 2008, updating an earlier report that contained data through 2007.  The updated report is based on project-level data from more than 52,000 residential and non-residential PV systems, totaling 566 MW of capacity and representing 71% of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the U.S. through 2008.  These data were provided by 27 PV incentive programs spanning 16 states.

The report finds that average installed costs have declined over time, from $10.8/W in 1998 to $7.5/W in 2008 (in real 2008 dollars per installed watt DC).  Importantly, average costs declined by approximately $0.3/W from 2007 to 2008, following several preceding years (2005-2007) when they remained essentially flat.  The cost reductions from 2007 to 2008 were associated with a decline in module costs, in contrast to earlier years when cost reductions were associated primarily with a decline in non-module costs.

Costs are generally lower in states with larger PV deployment programs (though exceptions exist), and international experience suggests that greater near-term cost reductions are possible, with Germany and Japan exhibiting significantly lower average installed costs for residential PV systems than the U.S.  The report finds evidence of sizable economies of scale among the PV systems in our sample, significant variation in average installed cost among states, and cost advantages for PV installed in residential new construction relative to the retrofit market.  The report also describes trends in financial incentive levels over time, by customer type and among states, and the associated impact of these trends on the net installed cost of PV for residential and commercial PV system owners after receipt of incentives.

The report can be downloaded from: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/re-pubs.htmlA
PowerPoint presentation that summarizes key findings can be found at: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/emp-ppt.html

Funding support for this report was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program, and the Clean Energy States Alliance.

CPUC’s California Solar Initiative – October Staff Progress Report

By the California Public Commission’s Energy Division Staff. October 2009.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s California Solar Initiative (CSI) team issued its October Staff Progress Report on October 21, 2009.   Highlights of the report include:

  • The California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program has reached 257 megawatt (MW) of installed solar at 21,159 sites since 2007.
  • California has reached a cumulative 509 MW of installed solar at 52,714 sites (which includes sites installed prior to the start of CSI in 2007).
  • The report focuses on Q3 2009 in which the CSI Program saw record high demand for new solar applications, including over 2,200 program applications in the month of August alone.
  • Small solar systems prices declined 9 percent and large system prices declined by 13 percent since the same quarter last year.
  • In addition to the CSI general market incentive program, all other CSI Program components continue to make key progress towards goals, including the CSI Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D), and the CSI Solar Water Heating Pilot Program (SWHPP). as well as the two affordable housing programs – CSI’s Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) and CSI Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH).

To download the report, click here:

http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Solar/091021_staffprogressreport.htm

Smart Solar Marketing Strategies

by Lyn Rosoff, SmartPower and Mark Sinclair, Clean Energy Group. August 2009.

This report showcases smart marketing strategies from clean energy programs and solar marketers from across the country that address how to overcome the barriers faced by solar technology markets and serves as a guide for states in pursuing their own market planning process. Effective marketing guides how, when, and where product information is presented to consumers, with the ultimate goal of persuading consumers to purchase a particular brand or product. Therefore, state solar program managers must see themselves as a critical part of the solar sales process.

Consumers consistently report a preference for energy produced from renewable energy sources but invariably fail to purchase renewable energy in sizeable numbers. Research conducted by SmartPower and detailed in this report was designed to identify the barriers to solar purchases, address consumer concerns, and provide state solar programs with guidelines that should be integrated into their overall marketing approach. SmartPower’s findings concluded that there are four primary barriers to solar market growth, and ALL four must be addressed to expand the market. Those barriers include:

  1. Cost. Consumers report high up-front and out-of-pocket costs and long payback periods deter them from installing solar energy technology.
  2. Reliability. The absence of solar technologies in the public’s eye and confusion about its performance and capabilities create concerns about the reliability of solar technology; it is not perceived as up to the task of powering our energy needs.
  3. Complexity. The time consuming and complex nature of purchasing and installing solar energy systems discourages potential customers.
  4. Inertia. The lengthy decision-making process and financial complexity of the solar sale often result in consumer inertia.

In addition to addressing these barriers, solar programs also must create a connection with customers through marketing messages that are likely to enhance interest and lead to further inquiry. Messages that connect on a financial or value level are most likely to succeed. This guide cites many marketing initiatives that are contributing to the growth and interest in solar across the country. However, the guide is not meant to be a clearinghouse of all solar marketing programs, nor an endorsement of any one particular approach. Instead, it is offered to provide solar programs and stakeholders with examples of innovative strategies that can make a difference in solar marketing.

Download the report
File format: PDF
Source: Clean Energy Group

Download the presentation
File Format: PDF
File Source: Clean Energy Group

U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008

By Larry Sherwood, Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), July 2009.

IREC has just released its annual report, U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008. The report, authored by Larry Sherwood, provides public data on U.S. solar installations by technology, state, and market sector. Both PV and solar thermal installations grew rapidly in 2008. This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Solar Energy Technologies Program.

Download the Report (PDF)
U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008

Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments

Prepared by Hannah Muller of U.S. DOE and Sarah Truitt of SENTECH, Inc. for DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Program. July 2009.

The U.S. Department of Energy developed this comprehensive resource to assist local governments and stakeholders in building sustainable local solar markets. The guide introduces a range of policy and program options that have been successfully field tested in cities around the country. The guide describes each policy or program, followed by more information on:

  • Benefits: Identifies benefits from implementing the policy or program.
  • Implementation Tips and Options: Outlines various tips and options for designing and implementing the policy or program.
  • Examples: Highlights experiences from communities that have successfully implemented the policy or program.
  • Additional References and Resources: Lists additional reports, references, and tools that offer more information on the topic, where applicable.

The most recent version of the Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments can be found at the US DOE Solar Cities Website (link).

Solar Photovoltaic Financing: Residential Sector Deployment

NREL Technical Report: NREL/TP-6A2-44853.  By Jason Coughlin and Karlynn Cory. March 2009.

This report examines incentives available to reduce the cost of owning and operating a PV system and creative ways to combine them into a comprehensive financial package for residential PV systems. This report explains new financing mechanisms such as solar leases, residential power purchase agreements, property tax assessment models, renewable energy credit-based loans and community-based PV deployment models that are being offered by states and municipalities to support residential PV deployment.

Download the document (pdf)
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/44853.pdf

SEIA Releases 2008 Solar Industry Year in Review

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) recently released its 2008 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review, highlighting a third year of record growth. The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 17 percent to 8,775 MW. The 2008 figure included 342 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV), 139 MWTh (thermal equivalent) of solar water heating, 762 MWTh of pool heating and an estimated 21 MW of solar space heating and cooling.

Link to the Report (PDF)
http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/2008_Year_in_Review-small.pdf

NABCEP Solar PV Installer Certification

North American Board of Certified Energy Practioners (NABCEP) Announces New Eligibility Criteria for Solar PV Installer Certification. NABCEP’s Board of Directors has updated the training-related eligibility criteria a candidate must meet in order to sit for the Solar PV Installer Certification Exam.

Link to NABCEP Announcement

Solar Leasing for Residential Photovoltaic Systems

National Renewable Energy Laboratoy, February 2009.

The emergence of the solar lease has created a new model to finance the cost of a residential photovoltaic (PV) system, particularly in markets with good PV incentives. This document, prepared by NREL, examines the solar lease option for residential PV systems and describes two solar lease programs already in place: 1) SolarCity, based in Foster City, California, is actively marketing its solar lease program in California, Oregon, and Arizona (SolarCity 2008) and 2) Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) – CT Solar Lease Program, offering a zero down-payment lease with a 15-year initial term to CT homeowners.

Link to the Document (pdf): http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/43572.pdf

Tracking the Sun: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2007

By Ryan Wiser, Galen Barbose, Carla Peterman, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Februray 2009.

This report provides a comprehensive summary of installed cost trends for grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States from 1998 through 2007.  It is based on project-level data from nearly 37,000 residential and non-residential PV systems, totaling 363 MW of capacity and representing 76% of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the U.S. through 2007.  These data were provided by 16 PV incentive programs spanning 12 states.

The report detials that average installed costs have declined over time, from $10.5/W in 1998 to $7.6/W in 2007 (in real 2007 dollars per installed watt DC).  Cost reductions are especially prevalent among smaller PV systems and are primarily attributable to reductions in non-module costs.  The distribution of installed costs has also narrowed significantly over time, with high-cost outliers becoming increasingly infrequent.  From 2005-2007, however, both average installed costs and the distribution of installed costs have remained relatively fixed.  Costs are generally lower in states with larger PV deployment programs, and international experience suggests that greater near-term cost reductions are possible, with Japan and Germany exhibiting significantly lower average installed costs for residential PV systems than the U.S.

The authors also find evidence of sizable economies of scale among the PV systems in our sample, significant variation in average installed cost among states, and cost advantages for PV installed in residential new construction relative to the retrofit market.  The report also describes trends in financial incentive levels over time, by customer type and among states, and the associated impact of these trends on the net installed cost of PV for residential and commercial PV system owners after receipt of incentives.

The report can be downloaded from:
http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/reports/lbnl-1516e.pdf

A PowerPoint presentation that summarizes key findings can be found at:
http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/emp-ppt.html

Funding support for this report was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program and Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Clean Energy States Alliance.

Clean Edge: Utility Solar Assessment Study – Reaching 10% Solar by 2025

Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, Clean Edge. Published by Clean Edge, Inc. and Co-op America Foundation. June 2008.

From Clean Edge: "The Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study, produced by clean-tech research and publishing firm Clean Edge and green-economy nonprofit Co-op America, provides a comprehensive roadmap for utilities, solar companies, and regulators to reach 10% solar in the U.S. by 2025.

The study finds that significantly scaling solar power in the U.S. will require the active involvement of utilities. The study delivers a to-do list for the three key stakeholders in the nation’s solar industry. Among others, the action items include:

  • For utilities: Take advantage of the unique value of solar for peak generation and alleviating grid congestion; implement solar as part of the build-out of the smart grid; and adapt to new market realities with new business models.
  • For solar companies: Bring installed solar systems costs to $3 per peak watt or less by 2018; streamline installations; and make solar a truly plug-and-play technology.
  • For regulators and policy makers: Pass a long-term extension of investment and production tax credits for solar and other renewables; establish open standards for solar interconnection; and give utilities the ability to "rate-base" solar.

The USA Study also reports that:

  • For the first time solar power is beginning to reach cost parity with conventional energy sources. As solar prices decline and the capital and fuel costs for coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants rise, the U.S. will reach a crossover point by around 2015.
  • Installed solar PV prices are projected to decline from an average $5.50-$7.00 peak watt (15-32 cents kWh) today to $3.02-$3.82 peak watt (8-18 cents kWh) in 2015 to $1.43-$1.82 peak watt (4-8 cents kWh) by 2025
  • Solar power offers a number of advantages over conventional energy sources. Among them, the ability to deliver energy at or near the point of use, zero fuel costs, minimal maintenance requirements and zero carbon-based source emissions.
  • The investment to arrive at 10% solar in the U.S. is not small, reaching $450 billion to $560 billion between now and 2025, an average of $26 billion to $33 billion per year. However, given utilities’ existing capital costs such an investment is not prohibitive. To put the investment in perspective: Utilities spent an estimated $70 billion on new power plants and transmission and distribution systems in 2007 alone.”

To Download the Document: http://www.cleanedge.com/reports/reports-solarUSA2008.php    

Mainstreaming Solar Electricity: Strategies for States to Build Local Markets

Mark Sinclair, Clean Energy Group and Steve Weisman, Peregrine Energy Group. April 2008.

The report describes the key policies and program strategies that have emerged as effective tools for states to advance wide-spread solar deployment. The report’s recommendations are based on the input and lessons learned of the members of the Clean Energy States Alliance, a coalition of state clean energy funds working together to support renewable energy technologies.

The report recommends that states serious about local market-making focus on the following interventions:

  • Provide predictable, long-term financial incentive support for solar projects
  • Establish “PV friendly” laws such as expanded net metering, simplified interconnection standards, streamlined local permitting, and renewable portfolio standards with solar targets
  • Ensure sensible incentive program design to reduce customer transaction costs
  • Stimulate favorable solar financing programs
  • Commit to use of solar on public buildings
  • Support local work force training and development
  • Educate consumers on the merits of solar

The report also provides specific examples of state program features and policies that we believe to represent “best in class” approaches.  It is hoped that states will use the report as a blueprint for actions they can pursue to effectively mainstream solar electricity.

Download the report
File format: PDF
Source: Clean Energy Group  

Council of State Governments – Suggested State Legislation Supplement – Energy

CSG 2008 SSL Energy Supplement. The Council of State Governments, 2008.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) has released a Supplement edition to the 2008 Suggested State Legislation, a valued series of compilations of draft legislation from the states about topics of current interest and importance to the states. The CSG Committee on Suggested State Legislation compiled this supplement as part of Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry’s initiative as the 2007 CSG President, which focused on alternative, sustainable energy.

That initiative addressed America’s need to diversify its energy sources and the role states can plan to make that happen. This Suggested State Legislation "Supplement" contains articles, Suggested State Legislation drafts, recent state legislation, and state legislation from previous SSL dockets, which address a variety of state policies to help generate power from renewable sources and steps the states and consumers alike can take to conserve energy.

Download the document (Link)
File Format: PDF
Source: The Council of State Governments

NYSERDA Announces $6 million Clean Energy Workforce Training Initiative

NYSERDA unveiled a $6-million clean energy workforce training initiative that will invest in a range of clean energy sectors including solar photovoltaic systems, small wind turbines, and biogas energy systems. It will also develop a solar workforce through programs at community colleges across NY. This effort will develop a workforce that can design, install, and maintain renewable energy systems to ensure the successful implementation and promotion of renewable energy technologies. February 2008.

Download the press release and pamphlet.
File Format: PDF
Source: NYSERDA

Property Tax Assessments as a Finance Vehicle for Residential PV Installations: Opportunities and Potential Limitations

Mark Bolinger, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, February 2008.

This CESA-LBNL case study describes the mechanics of a new type of photovoltaic (PV) financing program recently proposed by the City of Berkeley, California, and being considered by other cities throughout the U.S. Specifically, these cities propose to offer their residents the ability to utilize increased property tax assessments as a means of repaying over time the up-front cost of installing PV systems.

Although this type of program has a number of appealing features, two fundamental program characteristics — government involvement and an attractive interest rate — may cause the IRS to consider such programs to be "subsidized energy financing," which in turn would reduce or eliminate the ability of program participants to take advantage of the Federal investment tax credit for solar. This case study explores this particular issue through both a rudimentary review of relevant tax law, as well as a quantitative analysis of the potential financial benefit of such programs relative to commercially available financing alternatives, and how much of that relative benefit might be eroded by the possible loss of the Federal credit.

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Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

State Strategies to Foster Solar Hot Water System Deployment

Mark Sinclair, Clean Energy States Alliance, December 2007.

This CESA State Program Guide describes a number of straightforward strategies that states can implement to support adoption of solar hot water (SHW) technologies, including provision of financial incentives, training for installers, and education to help customers make informed decisions. It also provides recommendations for the development of effective solar hot water (SHW) incentive programs and addresses SHW’s potential, obstacles to the realization of this potential, and mechanisms by which states can overcome these obstacles.

It also provides an excellent reading list for general SHW information and reports concerning the SHW programs in Oregon and California.

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Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

Regional Per-Capita Solar Electric Footprint for the United States

P. Denholm and R. Margolis, NREL/TP-670-42463, December 2007.

In this report, the authors quantify the state-by-state per-capita ‘solar electric footprint’ for the United States. They use state-level data on population, electricity consumption, economic activity and solar insolation, along with solar photovoltaic (PV) array packing density data to develop a range of estimates of the solar electric footprint. They conclude that the solar electric footprint, defined as the land area required to supply all end-use electricity from solar photovoltaics, is about 181 m2 per person in the United States. Two key factors that influence the magnitude of the state-level solar electric footprint include how industrial energy is allocated (based on location of use vs. where goods are consumed) and the assumed distribution of PV configurations (flat rooftop vs. fixed tilt vs. tracking). The solar electric footprint is about 0.6% of the total land area of the United States with state-level estimates ranging from less than 0.1% for Wyoming to about 9% for New Jersey. The report also compares the solar electric footprint to a number of other land uses. For example, we find that the solar electric footprint is equal to less than 2% of the land dedicated to cropland and grazing in the United States.

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Source: NREL

State by State Solar Incentive Tables

PV Incentives Table  (August 2007) 
Solar Water Heating Table (August 2007)
File Format: MS Word

State-by-State Solar Incentive Tables for PV and Solar Hot Water Heating, courtesy of Segue Energy Consulting, LLC., NREL and DSIRE. Updated August 2007.

The tables identify tax credits, sales and property tax incentives, rebates, grants, performance-based incentives, loans, and net metering offered by states and utilities as of August 2007. Data points on the tables are hyperlinked to the DSIRE database for further information.

Solar Water Heating – How CA Can Reduce It’s Dependence On Natural Gas

Bernadette Del Chiaro, Environment CA Research and Policy Center, and Timothy Telleen-Lawton, Frontier Group. April 2007.

This report, published by Environment California, quantifies the energy, environmental, and energy savings potential for solar water heating in California and across the United States.

In April 2007 Assembly Member Jared Huffman introduced AB 1470 to create California’s Solar Hot Water and Efficiency Act of 2007. CALSEIA is working closely with Environment California, the sponsor of this bill, to support its enactment.

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Souce: CAL SEIA

The Technical Potential for Solar Hot Water Heating to Reduce Fossil Fuel Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S.

P. Dehlom, NREL Technical Report, NREL/TP-640-41157, March 2007.

This report provides an overview of the technical potential of solar water heating to reduce fossil fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. residential and commercial buildings.

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Source: NREL

Exploring the Economic Value of EPAct 2005′s PV Tax Credits

Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wiser, LBNL, and Edwin Ing, Law Offices of Edwin T.C. Ing. March 2006. Updated February 2007.

This CESA – LBNL Case Study examines how much economic value do new and expanded federal tax credits really provide to PV system purchasers, and what implications might they hold for state/utility PV grant programs. The report begins with a discussion of the taxability of PV grants and their interaction with federal credits, as this issue significantly affects the analysis that follows. We then calculate the incremental value of EPAct’s new and expanded credits for PV systems of different sizes, and owned by different types of entities. The report concludes with a discussion of potential implications for purchasers of PV systems, as well as for administrators of state/utility PV programs.

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Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

Photovoltaic Incentive Design Handbook

Tom E. Hoff, Clean Power Research, December 2006. NREL/SR-640-40845.

This NREL handbook is designed for agencies and utilities that offer or intend to offer incentive programs for customer-owned PV systems. Its purpose is to help select, design, and implement incentive programs that best meet programmatic goals. It discusses the various incentive structures that are used, and then discusses qualitative and quantitative tools to design appropriate incentive structures. It also includes a section on program administration considerations. This is an excellent resource for state policy makers considering the use of financial incentives for residential and commercial PV installations.

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Source: NREL

Designing PV Incentive Programs to Promote Performance – A Review of Current Practice

Galen Barbose, Ryan Wiser, and Mark Bolinger, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. October 2006.

This CESA-LBNL case study examines the approaches used to encourage PV system performance – including, but not limited to, performance-based incentives (PBIs) – used by 32 prominent PV incentive programs in the U.S.  The report provides a point of reference for assessing the current state of the art, and to inform program design efforts going forward. The report examines the approaches to encouraging PV system performance – including, but not limited to, PBIs – used by 32 prominent PV incentive programs in the U.S. (see Table 1).  It focuses specifically on programs that offer an explicit subsidy payment for customer-sited PV installations. PV support programs that offer other forms of financial support or that function primarily as a mechanism for purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) through energy production-based payments are outside the scope of our review. The information presented is derived primarily from publicly available sources, including program websites and guidebooks.

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Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

Guide to Federal Tax Incentives for Solar Energy

SEIA – Solar Energy Industry Association. Version 1.2. May 2006.

The SEIA Guide to Federal Tax Credits for Solar Energy provides comprehensive information as to how the incentives for both commercial and residential applications may be claimed. Key considerations in calculating the value of federal incentives for a solar project include:

  • What types of solar equipment constitute “eligible property” for each of the
    incentives;
  • Amount of the incentives;
  • Conditions for a system to meet the definition of “put in service” (for example,
    the taxpayer must have taken legal title and control of the equipment);
  • The value of the “tax credit basis”;
  • Project timing issues arising from the tax credit window;
  • Ownership structure of the project; and
  • The effect of rebates, state tax credits, and other subsidies on the federal tax
    credits.

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Source: SEIA

Strategies to Foster Solar Energy & Advanced Efficiency in Affordable Multi-Family Housing

Prepared by Clean Energy Group and Peregrine Energy Group, Inc. February 2006.

This Clean Energy State Program Guide describes how state clean energy programs, in partnership with state housing agencies, can advance the use of clean energy technologies in low-income residential housing. The report provides states with targeted strategies for implementing a program to support and encourage the application of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the development of affordable, multi-family homes.

This Program Guide includes:

  • An Action Plan for states to promote solar photovoltaic technology in multi-family housing
  • An overview of the affordable housing sector,with descriptions of the key players, programs, procedures and funding sources
  • An overview of the "green building design" approach
  • Identification of barriers to the use of clean energy technologies in the multi-family housing sector with recommended strategies for states to overcome these barriers
  • Information and case studies describing national and state programs that can serve as models and resources for use by state clan energy programs
  • Information on green standards and advance energy measures

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Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

Supporting Photovoltaics in Market-Rate Residential New Construction: A Summary of Programmatic Experience to Date and Lessons Learned

Galen Barbose, Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. February 2006. 

This CESA – LBNL Case Study summarizes programmatic experience and lessons learned from the state clean energy funds and describes early efforts by state clean energy funds to support the deployment of PV in new, market-rate homes. The report focuses on the activities of clean energy funds in nine states (California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Minnesota) that have funded specific projects and/or have offered targeted programs for PV in market-rate residential new construction. It also includes a review of several other state or local organizations whose efforts are particularly noteworthy or have some direct bearing on the efforts of clean energy funds in the same state – however, the report does not attempt to comprehensively review the activities of entities other than state clean energy funds.

The report concludes with a summary of steps states can take to encourage PV adoption in market-rate, residential new construction and points to a number of basic lessons for how state clean energy funds and other organizations can address these issues and more successfully tap the residential new construction market for PV.

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Source: Clean Energy States Alliance

Solar Works, Inc.

We have provided this link to Solar Works’ commercial case study page to introduce viewers of this website to some end-results of solar installations. Solar Works provides a "gallery" of case studies under their Residential, Commercial and Education tabs. These case studies display a project’s photo, overview, specifications and environmental benefits.

Solar Works, Inc. is the leading renewable energy systems integrator in the northeast with over 800 solar energy installations and 25 years of experience. They have an extensive portfolio of solar electric and solar thermal system installations for residential, commercial, education and institutional clients.

Link to the Website
Format: HTML
Source: Solar Works, Inc.

Solar Glossary of Terms

The US DOE EERE Solar Energy Technologies Program has developed a web page that explains technical terms that are frequently used in discussions of PV and solar technologies, and many other terms having to do with electricity, power generation, concentrating solar power (CSP), solar heating, and solar lighting.

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Source: US DOE EERE

Letting the Sun Shine on Solar Costs: An Empirical Investigation of Photovoltaic Cost Trends in California

Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Peter Cappers, Neenan Associates; and Robert Margolis, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, January 2006.

This report provides an in-depth statistical analysis of PV system costs in California. Through mid-November 2005, a total of 130 MWAC of grid-connected solar capacity was installed throughout California, making that state the dominant market for PV in the United States, though it still stands a distant third on a worldwide basis behind Germany and Japan.

The results presented here are based on an analysis of 18,942 grid-connected PV systems totaling 254 MWAC, either installed, approved for installation, or waitlisted (approved but awaiting program funding) under what are currently the two largest PV programs in the state. This analysis provides insights on California’s PV market by exploring cost trends, and by untangling the various factors that affect the cost of PV systems. Results also have important policy ramifications, as they address the interaction between incentive levels and installed costs, and the relative cost of different PV applications.

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Source: LBNL
 

Heat Your Water with the Sun

DOE EERE Consumer Guide, December 2003. DOE/GO-102003-1834.

If you’d like to find out more about solar heating for your home or pool, this booklet is a good place to start. Here, you’ll learn how solar heating systems work, how they’re used, their benefits, and how to purchase one yourself. Please note, however, that this booklet isn’t a technical guide to designing and installing a system. For that, you’ll need to consult an experienced solar heating contractor. 

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Source: NREL

Learning by Doing: The Evolution of State Support for PV

Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wiser, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. June 2003.

This LBNL report briefly discusses lessons learned from states with clean energy funds regarding their experiences with "buy-down" programs used to offset the high up-front costs of PV systems. These include capital grants and rebates. This report discusses how various states are crafting new programs to promote PV deployment based on their experience.

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Source: Berkeley Lab