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Open Access Publications from the University of California

How policy has shaped the emerging solar photovoltaic installation industry


Hundreds of state and local policies support the deployment of residential-scale solar photovoltaic systems in the United States. Policy differences across jurisdictions may explain differences in local photovoltaic industries, such as the number of competing installers, the distribution of market shares among those installers, and the market shares of large national-scale installers in local markets. This paper explores this hypothesis through a novel econometric model, the results of which suggest that various state and local policies indeed shape emerging photovoltaic industries. The results suggest that policies that generate higher customer electricity cost savings yield markets with more installers while higher levels of up-front photovoltaic subsidies produce markets with fewer installers. Further, both up-front subsidies and ongoing incentives yield markets where national-scale installers hold less market share. These results indicate that policies have long-term indirect impacts on photovoltaic markets by shaping nascent installation industries. Policymakers could use the results to identify and design policies that help raise infant installation industries to maturity.

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