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  1. Income Trends of Residential PV Adopters: An analysis of household-level income estimates [PowerPoint presentation]

    The residential photovoltaic (PV) market has expanded rapidly over the past decade, but questions exist about how equitably that growth has occurred across income groups. Prior studies have investigated this question but are often limited by narrow geographic study regions, now-dated analysis timeframes, or coarse estimates of PV-adopter incomes. At the same time, a spate of new programs and initiatives, as well as innovations in business models and product design, have emerged in recent years with the aim of making solar more accessible and affordable to broader segments of the population. Yet, many of those efforts are proceeding without robustmore » underlying information about the income characteristics of recent residential PV adopters. This work aims to establish basic factual information about income trends among U.S. residential solar adopters, with some emphasis on low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. The analysis is unique in its relatively extensive coverage of the U.S. solar market, relying on Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun dataset, which contains project-level data for the vast majority of all residential PV systems in the country (a subset of which are ultimately included in the analysis sample). This analysis is also unique in its use of household-level income estimates that provide a more-precise characterization of PV-adopter incomes than in most prior studies.« less
  2. U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards: 2017 Annual Status Report

    Berkeley Lab’s annual status report on U.S. renewables portfolio standards (RPS) provides an overview of key trends associated with U.S. state RPS policies. The report, published in slide-deck form, describes recent legislative revisions, key policy design features, compliance with interim targets, past and projected impacts on renewables development, and compliance costs. The 2017 edition of the report presents historical data through year-end 2016 and projections through 2030. Key trends from this edition of the report include the following: -Evolution of state RPS programs: Significant RPS-related policy revisions since the start of 2016 include increased RPS targets in DC, MD, MI,more » NY, RI, and OR; requirements for new wind and solar projects and other major reforms to the RPS procurement process in IL; and a new offshore wind carve-out and solar procurement program in MA. -Historical impacts on renewables development: Roughly half of all growth in U.S. renewable electricity (RE) generation and capacity since 2000 is associated with state RPS requirements. Nationally, the role of RPS policies has diminished over time, representing 44% of all U.S. RE capacity additions in 2016. However, within particular regions, RPS policies continue to play a central role in supporting RE growth, constituting 70-90% of 2016 RE capacity additions in the West, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. -Future RPS demand and incremental needs: Meeting RPS demand growth will require roughly a 50% increase in U.S. RE generation by 2030, equating to 55 GW of new RE capacity. To meet future RPS demand, total U.S. RE generation will need to reach 13% of electricity sales by 2030 (compared to 10% today), though other drivers will also continue to influence RE growth. -RPS target achievement to-date: States have generally met their interim RPS targets in recent years, with only a few exceptions reflecting unique state-specific policy designs. -REC pricing trends: Prices for renewable energy certificates (RECs) used to meet general RPS obligations fell in most markets in 2016, as surplus RPS supplies emerged in many regions. Price trends for solar RECs were more varied, with a particularly pronounced drop in MD. -RPS compliance costs and cost caps: RPS compliance costs totaled $3.0 billion in 2015 (the most-recent year for which relatively complete data are available), which equates to 1.6% of average retail electricity bills in RPS states. Though total U.S. RPS compliance costs rose from 2014, future cost growth in most RPS states will be capped by cost containment mechanisms.« less
  3. Estimating the Value of Improved Distributed Photovoltaic Adoption Forecasts for Utility Resource Planning

    Misforecasting the adoption of customer-owned distributed photovoltaics (DPV) can have operational and financial implications for utilities - forecasting capabilities can be improved, but generally at a cost.This paper informs this decision-space by quantifying the costs of misforecasting across a wide range of DPV growth rates and misforecast severities. Using a simplified probabilistic method presented within, an analyst can make a first-order estimate of the financial benefit of improving a utility's forecasting capabilities, and thus be better informed about whether to make such an investment. For example, we show that a utility with 10 TWh per year of retail electric salesmore » who initially estimates that the increase in DPV's contribution to total generation could range from 2 percent to 7.5 percent over the next 15 years could expect total present-value savings of approximately $4 million if they could keep the severity of successive five-year misforecasts within +/- 25 percent. We also have more general discussions about how misforecasting DPV impacts the buildout and operation of the bulk power system - for example, we observed that misforecasting DPV most strongly influenced the amount of utility-scale PV that gets built, due to the similarity in the energy and capacity services offered by the two solar technologies.« less
  4. Characteristics of low-priced solar PV systems in the U.S.

    Despite impressive declines in average prices, there is wide dispersion in the prices of U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) systems; prices span more than a factor of four. What are the characteristics of the systems with low-prices? Using detailed characteristics of 42,611 small-scale (<15 kW) PV systems installed in 15 U.S. states during 2013, we identify the most important factors that make a system likely to be low-priced (LP). Comparing LP and non-LP systems, we find statistically significant differences in nearly all characteristics for which we have data. Logit and probit model results robustly indicate that LP systems are associated with:more » markets with few active installers; experienced installers; customer ownership; large systems; retrofits; and thin-film, low-efficiency, and Chinese modules. We also find significant differences across states, with LP systems much more likely to occur in some states, such as Arizona, New Jersey, and New Mexico, and less likely in others, such as California. Our focus on the left tail of the price distribution provides implications for policy that are distinct from recent studies of mean prices. While those studies find that PV subsidies increase mean prices, we find that subsidies also generate LP systems. PV subsidies appear to simultaneously shift and broaden the price distribution. Much of this broadening occurs in a particular location, northern California.« less
  5. Estimating the Value of Improved Distributed Photovoltaic Adoption Forecasts for Utility Resource Planning

    Misforecasting the adoption of customer-owned distributed photovoltaics (DPV) can have operational and financial implications for utilities; forecasting capabilities can be improved, but generally at a cost. This paper informs this decision-space by using a suite of models to explore the capacity expansion and operation of the Western Interconnection over a 15-year period across a wide range of DPV growth rates and misforecast severities. The system costs under a misforecast are compared against the costs under a perfect forecast, to quantify the costs of misforecasting. Using a simplified probabilistic method applied to these modeling results, an analyst can make a first-ordermore » estimate of the financial benefit of improving a utility’s forecasting capabilities, and thus be better informed about whether to make such an investment. For example, under our base assumptions, a utility with 10 TWh per year of retail electric sales who initially estimates that DPV growth could range from 2% to 7.5% of total generation over the next 15 years could expect total present-value savings of approximately $4 million if they could reduce the severity of misforecasting to within ±25%. Utility resource planners can compare those savings against the costs needed to achieve that level of precision, to guide their decision on whether to make an investment in tools or resources.« less
  6. U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards: 2016 Annual Status Report

    This document discusses the renewables standard report for 2016.
  7. Retail Rate Impacts of Renewable Electricity: Some First Thoughts

    This report summarizes select recent analyses of the retail rate impacts of renewable electricity, introduce core limitations of available literature, as rate impacts remain only partly assessed, and highlight a wide range of estimated historical and possible future rate impacts.
  8. Prospective Costs, Benefits, and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards

    These slides were presented at a webinar on January 9, 2017. The slides overview a report that evaluates the future costs, benefits, and other impacts of renewable energy used to meet current state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs). It also examines a future scenario where RPSs are expanded. The analysis examines changes in electric system costs and retail electricity prices, which include all fixed and operating costs, including capital costs for all renewable, non-renewable, and supporting (e.g., transmission and storage) electric sector infrastructure; fossil fuel, uranium, and biomass fuel costs; and plant operations and maintenance expenditures. The analysis evaluates three specificmore » benefits: air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use. It also analyzes two other impacts, renewable energy workforce and economic development, and natural gas price suppression. The analysis finds that the benefits or renewable energy used to meet RPS polices exceed the costs, even when considering the highest cost and lowest benefit outcomes.« less
  9. Characteristics of low-priced solar PV systems in the U.S.

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