NREL To Collaborate With 8 Teams On Innovations To Unlock Equitable Solar

SEIN logo

Solar energy is taking off in the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Agency projects that solar power will account for nearly half of all new electricity-generating capacity in 2022. But this growth is not shared equally across the United States. For example, research published in Nature Sustainability found that Black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed significantly less rooftop photovoltaics (PV) than no-majority and white-majority tracts.


To help address these gaps and ensure that the benefits of solar energy can be shared by all Americans, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected eight teams from across the country to join the third round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). The teams will work collaboratively to deepen understanding of the barriers that prevent more equitable adoption of solar energy in underserved communities. NREL will provide analytical support to the teams as they design and test solutions to overcome these barriers in their communities.


New Solutions for New Communities

Common themes across the projects include developing solar financing mechanisms and frameworks, implementing solar-plus-storage in underserved communities, and fostering new practices to ensure that solutions meet the needs of the community. SEIN teams are focusing on communities that are often both racially diverse and composed of low-to-moderate income households. Key drivers of effective approaches for solar adoption may differ from those found in the higher-income households that have traditionally adopted solar in larger numbers.

Also Read  Gading Kencana Sdn Bhd And Affin Bank To Offer Financing Packages For Solar Panel Installations In Malaysia

“By providing direct funding, technical expertise, and facilitated stakeholder engagement all in one program, SEIN helps teams effectively identify, research, and respond to the unique barriers and needs of communities that have seen limited solar adoption to date,” said Eric Lockhart, who leads SEIN at NREL.


SEIN, which began in 2017, has completed two previous rounds. Round 3 teams were selected in December 2021, and over the course of 15 months, they will discuss challenges, share ideas, and stress-test their solutions. At the end of their projects, teams will publish their findings as blueprints for others. They will also gather with other organizations that are interested in similar efforts at an NREL-hosted symposium.

A map of the united states representing the Round 3 Solar Energy Innovation Network Teams. Locations include Oregon, Utah, Minnesota, Texas, and Florida.
The locations of the Round 3 Solar Energy Innovation Network Teams.

A Unique Program Structure Brings Teams Together

Teams comprise diverse stakeholders, and that expertise helps teams ensure that all perspectives are heard, key barriers are identified, and the resulting solutions are robust and ready to be adopted by other communities in other contexts.

Also Read  Corporate Funding in Global Solar Sector Falls 13% to $24.1 Billion in 2022: Report

NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Rocky Mountain Institute are helping the eight teams realize and demonstrate never-before-tried applications of solar energy at the community level by providing them with extensive analytical support, modeling, and facilitated stakeholder engagement.

“It’s exciting to be able to leverage in-depth expertise from these three partner organizations to complement the expertise of the multi-stakeholder teams,” Lockhart said. “Looking beyond our 15 months working with these eight teams, our hope is that a deeper understanding of barriers to adoption and the cutting-edge solutions that these teams develop will support accelerated solar adoption across the United States in ways that recognize and respond to underserved community needs.”

SEIN is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and is led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.