In its first four years, the GW Solar Institute produced many high-quality reports that yielded many significant outcomes, such as an analysis of the long-term economics of solar and a quantification of the long list of societal benefits offered by solar energy. The information below provides a top-level overview of the GW Solar Institute's major policy impacts and research projects in the fields of science and engineering, economics, tax policy, and law from 2009 to 2012.
In its first years, the GW Solar Institute also developed a strong working relationship with senior officials involved in the solar energy program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This important advisory role was epitomized by an invitation to participate on the Steering Committee of DOE’s “SunShot Vision” study and to lead the drafting of a key chapter on system cost reduction. The SunShot Vision Study represented a major effort of the DOE to develop a far more aggressive deployment approach for solar energy in serving U.S. electricity needs. The study was intended to inform key policy decisions by the Energy Department, Congress, and other policymakers.
The involvement in the SunShot Vision Study was emblematic of the strong relationship between the Solar Institute and leaders within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), to whom the Institute’s Director offered important recommendations on key solar policy and research priorities. This relationship carried over to other important Executive Branch organizations, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President, the Institute for Defense Analyses, and the National Academies where the Institute’s Director provided several briefings to staff and other distinguished thought leaders.
Beyond the Executive Branch, the Solar Institute enjoyed a positive relationship with Congress, in particular with former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In 2009, the Institute’s Director testified before hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment of the House Committee on Science and Technology on developing a national roadmap for solar. As a leader in Congress on solar energy, the Institute spoke regularly with Representative Giffords and her staff on issues related to the use of solar by the Department of Defense, unique financing structures like Real Estate Investment Trusts, and other related topics.
In addition to federal policy, the Institute’s Co-Director was appointed by the Director of the Virginia Department on Environmental Quality (VA DEQ) to serve on a Regulatory Advisory Panel to assist the Department in the development of new regulations relating to solar energy facilities. These new regulations were needed to implement legislation enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in 2009 that were designed to streamline permitting for small renewable energy facilities, including solar energy.