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Title: On the Path to SunShot: Emerging Opportunities and Challenges in Financing Solar

This report analyzes solar financing strategies and their role in achieving the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot goals. Financing is critical to solar deployment, because the costs of solar technologies are paid up front, while their benefits are realized over decades. Solar financing has been shaped by government solar incentives, particularly federal tax incentives, which have spawned complex tax-equity structures that monetize tax benefits for project sponsors who otherwise could not use them efficiently. Although these structures have helped expand solar deployment, they are relatively costly and inefficient. This has spurred solar stakeholders to develop lower-cost financing solutions such as securitization of solar project portfolios, solar-specific loan products, and methods for incorporating residential solar's value into home values. To move solar further toward an unsubsidized SunShot future, additional financial innovation must occur. Development of a larger, more mature U.S. solar industry will likely increase financial transparency and investor confidence, which in turn will enable simpler, lower-cost financing methods. Utility-scale solar might be financed more like conventional generation assets are today, non-residential solar might be financed more like a new roof, and residential solar might be financed more like an expensive appliance. Assuming a constant, SunShot-level installed photovoltaic (PV) system price,more » such financing innovations could reduce PV's levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) by an estimated 25%-50% compared with historical financing approaches. These results suggest that financing can adapt to changing conditions and might ease the transition away from a reliance on tax incentives while driving solar's LCOE toward the SunShot goals.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
NREL/TP--6A20-65638; LBNL--1004372
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
Country of Publication:
United States
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY SunShot; solar; PV; photovoltaic; CSP; concentrating solar power; finance; financing; financial; incentives; market outlook; financial innovation; historic trends; tax-equity; third-party ownership; loans