DOE invests in community engagement research for solar sites

Preparing the build of a community solar project. Image: Reactivate.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has invested US$9.5 million in four institutions to examine the social impacts of utility-scale solar project siting.

Delivered under the Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 4 programme, the funds went to three universities and the Solar and Storage Industries Institute, a trade research body.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

  • Michigan State University received US$2.5 million to “evaluate the potential to speed up large-scale solar siting and permitting processes while also reducing community burdens and improving procedural justice and energy equity.”
  • Princeton University received US$2 million to “assess the potential for Community Benefit Agreements—legal agreements between community groups and large-scale solar developers—to deliver tangible benefits to communities. “
  • The Solar and Storage Industries Institute received US$2.5 million to “identify innovative community engagement practices for siting and permitting large-scale solar projects” through leveraging the Solar Uncommon Dialogue programme run by the Stanford Woods Institute, an environmental research institute.
  • The University of Pennsylvania received US$2.5 million to “evaluate how different siting practices shape community support for large-scale solar projects and how those dynamics differ across different types of communities.”

Jeff Marootian, principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy said: “”Solar energy can support regional sustainability goals, unlock stronger economies, and increase access to reliable and affordable clean energy resources. These projects will support DOE’s commitment to helping communities across the nation make informed decisions about their own energy needs and ensure projects provide meaningful benefits to the host community.”

In its investment announcement, the DOE cited research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), which said that community opposition is among the top three causes of project cancellations in the US, according to a survey of solar developers.

Interestingly, more Berkeley Lab research found that residents who live within three miles of a utility-scale solar project are three times more likely to have a positive view of the plant than negative.

Another piece of research from the Laboratory in January found that proximity to non-residential solar projects can increase the adoption of residential solar in neighbouring communities.

Engagement with communities also pertains to the permitting process for solar projects, which involves community consultation. In a statement to Congress earlier this year, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other US industry leaders called for the easing of permitting procedures.

8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.
17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

July 9, 2024
US solar manufacturer Toledo Solar has gone out of business. In a statement, the company said it “will be ending all research and development efforts and winding down operations effective immediately.”
July 9, 2024
Aggreko Energy Transition Solutions, a division of power generation equipment supplier Aggreko, has acquired US-based commercial and industrial solar company Infiniti Energy from private equity firm Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners.
July 9, 2024
German engineering firm Belectric has secured a contract to build a 135MWp solar PV project in Denmark, expected to be operational in 2025.
July 9, 2024
Indian EPC firm Larsen & Toubro has secured contracts to build two solar PV plants in the Middle East with a combined capacity of 3.5GW.
July 8, 2024
The world will add 3.8TWac of new solar capacity by 2033, alongside 1.6TW of new wind capacity, according to Wood Mackenzie.
July 8, 2024
US microinverter manufacturer Enphase Energy has started commercial shipments of its IQ8 microinverter made in a facility in Arlington, Texas.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 9, 2024
Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
Upcoming Webinars
July 10, 2024
9am (BST) / 10am (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA