Affordable and Accessible Solar for All: Barriers, Solutions, and On-Site Adoption Potential

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Solar energy technologies can be used as part of a suite of tools to reduce the energy burden of low-income customers, but to date, low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers have not adopted solar at the same rate as other income groups. This paper summarizes the barriers of LMI solar adoption related to finance and funding, community engagement, site suitability, policy and regulatory, and resilience and recovery and discusses existing and potential future solutions to address these barriers. In addition, we model future LMI on-site solar adoption, using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) dGen model. We model future scenarios assuming no changes in the current LMI solar policy and program environment, and we add two incentives to low-income households for adopting solar: a $3,000 incentive and a full incentive (i.e., the full cost of a PV system). While we model a financial incentive, this dollar reduction in cost could also come from other efforts, for example, reductions in solar soft costs. We find that by 2050, 48-49% of LMI households adopt solar, resulting in $69- $101 billion in first year utility bill savings to these consumers.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages47
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-80532


  • demographics
  • low Income
  • moderate income
  • multifamily
  • policy
  • rooftop
  • solar futures


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