This Untapped Market Could Add 320 Gigawatts Of New U.S. Residential Solar Energy

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Residential rooftop solar projects in the U.S. have historically been installed on wealthier, single-family households, meaning companies typically target higher-income households with their marketing efforts. Residential solar installations continue to grow across the country, but this focus is overlooking a massive growth opportunity: Low-to-moderate income (LMI) households.

A new first-of-its-kind report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) finds nearly half of all U.S. residential rooftop solar technical potential is on LMI households, and LMI solar capacity could total 320 gigawatts (GW) of potential solar installations across America.

For context, the U.S. installed 10.6 GW new solar in 2017 to reach 53.3 GW total installed capacity – meaning LMI solar represents up to a six-fold untapped market expansion for the U.S. solar industry.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Tract-level LMI solar rooftop technical potential

LMI solar’s growth potential extends to nearly every corner of the U.S., and in addition to generating new projects for solar companies, tapping into this market as solar could connect LMI households to increasingly cheap clean energy.

But there’s a catch: Tapping the LMI solar opportunity will require innovative approaches to solar projects and market policies.

Connecting Solar Developers With Low-Income Communities

While residential solar has boomed across the U.S., installations have primarily occurred on higher-income households. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently estimated the median income of all households with solar installations across 13 states was roughly $32,000 higher than the median household income in those states.

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