The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aggressively promotes renewable energy. Its SunShot Initiative seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the DOE has excellent information and programs related to solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal, and concentrated solar power (CSP). The agency’s website includes a glossary of terms related to solar technology, and the EERE Newsletter is worth checking out, as is Energy Savers for homeowners.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of several national laboratories supported by the U.S. DOE, is located in Boulder, CO and is the nation’s primary research and development lab for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is another DOE lab and performs research in a variety of sciences, including solar energy. The lab recently published Selling the Sun, a multi-state analysis of the comparative prices of homes sold with solar installations.
Texas State and Local Agencies
GO SOLAR TEXAS was developed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to increase deployment of solar across Texas. NCTCOG has worked to compile key resources for Texans interested in learning more about going solar, and developed Texas-specific resources on best management practices for local governments. This work, including this website, has been developed in part through support from the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) and U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Ready II program.
The Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) provides information on Texas’ vast renewable energy resources, incentives, financial options, and education.
Various units in the University of Texas system are engaged in research relevant to solar energy:
- The Austin campus has a Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics, which works with industry to look at all levels of the supply chain for opportunities to reduce costs.
- Also at the Austin campus, Dr. Varun Rai of the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs has received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to perform research on the solar market and solar costs. To read his article on consumer behavior, go to this LBJ School webpage and then click on “Publisher’s website.”
- At the San Antonio campus, the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute is examining solar forecasting and large-scale PV integration.
Austin Energy (the City of Austin’s municipal electric utility) established the country’s first municipal Green Building program in 1990. A leader in energy efficient and sustainable design and construction education, Austin’s program has won numerous awards. If you are lucky enough to live in Central Texas, don’t pass up the opportunity to learn from their Green By Design workshops offered throughout the year. If you can’t make the workshops, there is still much to learn from their website and programs.
Private, Non-Profit Organizations
The American Solar Energy Society (ASES), of which TXSES is a state chapter, has been promoting solar since 1954. A nonprofit dedicated to increasing the use of solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies, its website has it all. We are celebrating the 20th annual ASES National Solar Tour in October 2015 with a wealth of tours in Texas.
The Texas Solar Power Association is advancing the development of solar electric power generation in Texas. We represent leading companies delivering cost-competitive solar power to customers in wholesale and retail markets across the state.
The Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA) represents over 400 member companies, organizations, agencies, and individuals providing products, services, and information in the areas of solar electric generation, solar hot water, large and small-scale wind electric generation, electric generation and liquid renewable fuels from biomass, geothermal heating and cooling, geothermal electric generation, and sustainable (green) building design and construction.
Public Citizen/Texas is the Texas operation, headquartered in Austin, of a national non-profit advocacy organization. TXSES has collaborated with this organization on Solarize Texas. Public Citizen promotes cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars and air, and safe products for all Texans.
Environment Texas addresses many issues related to the environment including clean renewable energy. Read their November 2014 report Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in Texas.
The mission of the Solar Foundation is to “increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research and education that transform markets.” One of its programs is an annual census of solar jobs in the United States, broken down state-by-state. Read the report on solar jobs in Texas as of the end of 2014.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a national trade association, works to expand the use of solar technologies, strengthen research and development, remove market barriers, and improve education and outreach for solar.
The Vote Solar Initiative’s mission is to stop global warming, foster economic development, and increase energy independence by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. The organization works on the key policies necessary to bring solar to scale. Vote Solar works with state governments to build sustainable solar markets, remove regulatory barriers, and lay the necessary groundwork for a solar future.
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) works to move renewable energy resources into the marketplace, emphasizing education, outreach, stakeholder coordination, technical assistance, workforce development, the adoption and implementation of uniform guidelines and standards, and consumer protection. The Council’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is THE source of information on solar rebates, financial assistance, net metering, and incentives and policies at the local, state, and national levels. Read their U.S. Solar Market Trends-2012.
The Rocky Mountain Institute is a highly respected institution focused on research and collaborative demonstrations aimed at a transition to cleaner energy in the United States and in selected other countries. One of the Institute’s publications in 2015 was The Economics of Load Defection, describing the implications of additional distributed generation and storage for utility business plans.
Energy efficiency is a critical complement to solar energy, and so we include in this list the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which is dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. ACEEE has sponsored extensive research on these topics and holds regular conferences and workshops. See where Texas stands in their most recent state-by-state analysis of energy efficiency policies.