Photovoltaic Incentive Design Handbook

Robert Margolis, Robert Margolis (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


Investments in customer-owned grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems are growing at a steady pace. This is due, in part, to the availability of attractive economic incentives offered by public state agencies and utilities. In the United States, these incentives have largely been upfront lump payments tied to the system capacity rating. While capacity-based 'buydowns' have stimulated thedomestic PV market, they have been criticized for subsidizing systems with potentially poor energy performance. As a result, the industry has been forced to consider alternative incentive structures, particularly ones that pay based on long-term measured performance. The industry, however, lacks consensus in the debate over the tradeoffs between upfront incentive payments versus longer-termpayments for energy delivery. This handbook is designed for agencies and utilities that offer or intend to offer incentive programs for customer-owned PV systems. Its purpose is to help select, design, and implement incentive programs that best meet programmatic goals. The handbook begins with a discussion of the various available incentive structures and then provides qualitative andquantitative tools necessary to design the most appropriate incentive structure. It concludes with program administration considerations.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages79
StatePublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Clean Power Research, Napa, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-640-40845


  • California solar initiative
  • clean power research
  • customers
  • EPBB
  • expected performance based buydown
  • green tags
  • incentive programs
  • market demand
  • net metering
  • PBI
  • performance based incentive
  • photovoltaics (PV)
  • PV
  • PV incentives
  • solar
  • solar energy technology program
  • utilities


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