NREL Examines Solar Policies by State

April 16, 2014

State policy may impact your project's success.

The likelihood of a successful solar deployment at your site may actually depend on your state.

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently 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, NREL contextualized the impact of various solar policies on PV projects.

“Although it is widely accepted that solar policies drive market deployment, there has not been a clear understanding of which policies work in which context,” says Darlene Steward, lead author of the report. “This study provides insight into the policy scope and quality that is needed to spur solar PV markets across the U.S.”

Four case histories augment the quantitative analytics within each state grouping:

  • 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.

Analysis shows that the effectiveness of solar policy is influenced by factors such as solar resource availability, electricity prices, and community interest in renewable energy. The data also show that the number and make-up of policies spur solar PV markets. Private investment also helps, the study notes.

The full report, The Effectiveness of State-Level Policies on Solar Market Development in Different State Contexts, is available for free download.

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