Residential Solar Adoption Timelines and Impacts from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jesse Cruce, Eric O'Shaughnessy, Jenna Harmon, Jesse Geiger, Jeffrey Cook

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


In this study we evaluate PII and other PV adoption timelines from 2017-2021. We use project-level data collected by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the Solar Time-Based Residential Analytics and Cycle Time Estimator (SolarTRACE). Additionally, we conducted a survey of 171 AHJs about their experiences, challenges, and process changes during the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey findings were supplemented with follow up interviews with 5 AHJs from 4 states. We find that the pandemic moderately increased the duration and variability of pre-install timelines (contract signing to install), particularly in the permit review phase (permit submit to approval). In contrast, post-install timelines (install to final utility interconnection) continued to decline during the pandemic. The net result is that overall project timelines (contract signing to final interconnection) continued to decline during the pandemic. Our findings suggest that AHJs and installers faced challenges throughout the pandemic but ongoing improvements in PII processes - particularly post-install processes - more than offset these challenges. Furthermore, the pandemic may have catalyzed or accelerated a widespread adoption of online/electronic permitting, among other process efficiency improvements.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages44
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-83529


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • residential solar PV
  • solar interconnection
  • solar permitting


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