Analysts Review Support for Customer-Sited PV

Researchers Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wiser of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have released a new report analyzing state clean energy fund support for customer-sited photovoltaic (PV) projects. To date, 15 states have created so-called “clean energy funds,” most-often financed by a small surcharge on electricity bills. In the coming decade, these 15 funds will collect more than US$3 billion in aggregate to be allocated in support of Renewable Energy.

Berkeley, California – July 22, 2002 [] The report, “Customer-Sited PV: A Survey of Clean Energy Fund Support” is structured into two main sections, the first of which analyzes experience with the most widely implemented form of state support for PV to date: capital cost “buy-down” programs. This section summarizes buy-down program results, and highlights several innovative features (e.g., performance-based incentives in some of the newer programs) as well as broader issues and challenges (e.g., required incentive levels remain high). The second section reviews state experience in supporting PV through alternative means (i.e., through approaches other than buy-down programs), a broad category that includes competitive solicitations, infrastructure development, low-cost financing, equity investments, bulk purchases, project leasing, niche markets, feasibility studies, and green tags. “Productive alternatives to buy-down programs have proven elusive (e.g., system leasing), or will take some time to bear fruit (e.g., equity investments, building distribution channels), making them difficult to evaluate,” said Wiser. To date, more than 24MW of PV capacity have been installed or reserved under both categories of programs in aggregate. This report, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and undertaken in cooperation with the Clean Energy Funds Network, can be downloaded from LBNL’s Renewable Energy publications Web site.
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