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NREL Maps Solar Policy for 48 States

Linda Hardesty

solar Energy Manage

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report that aligns solar policy and market success with state demographics.

The report, “The Effectiveness of State-Level Policies on Solar Market Development in Different State Contexts,” organizes the 48 contiguous states into four peer groups based on shared non-policy characteristics to contextualize the impact of various solar policies on photovoltaic (PV) installations:

  1. Expected leaders. In Maryland, a comprehensive policy portfolio with equal emphasis on all policy types is driving recent market development.
  2. Rooftop rich. In North Carolina, strong interest in clean energy-related policy distinguishes it from other states.
  3. Motivated buyers. Delaware’s experience illustrates how targeted market preparation and creation policies can effectively stimulate markets.
  4. 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 states to take action.



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