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The environmental and cost implications of solar energy preferences in Renewable Portfolio Standards


  • Novacheck, Joshua
  • Johnson, Jeremiah X.


Many state-level Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) include preferences for solar generation, with goals of increasing the generation diversity, reducing solar costs, and encouraging local solar industries. Depending on their policy design, these preferences can impact the RPS program costs and emissions reduction. This study evaluates the impact of these policies on costs and emissions, coupling an economic dispatch model with optimized renewable site selection. Three policy designs of an increased RPS in Michigan are investigated: (1) 20% Solar Carve-Out, (2) 5% Distributed Generation Solar Carve-Out, and (3) 3× Solar Multiplier. The 20% Solar Carve-Out scenario was found to increase RPS costs 28%, while the 5% Distributed Generation Solar Carve-Out increased costs by 34%. Both of these solar preferences had minimal impact on total emissions. The 3× Solar Multiplier decreases total RPS program costs by 39%, but adds less than half of the total renewable generation of the other cases, significantly increasing emissions of CO2, NOx, and SO2 relative to an RPS without the solar credit multiplier. Sensitivity analysis of the installed cost of solar and the natural gas price finds small changes in the results of the Carve-Out cases, with a larger impact on the 3× Solar Multiplier.

Suggested Citation

  • Novacheck, Joshua & Johnson, Jeremiah X., 2015. "The environmental and cost implications of solar energy preferences in Renewable Portfolio Standards," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 250-261.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:86:y:2015:i:c:p:250-261
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2015.06.039

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johnson, Erik Paul, 2014. "The cost of carbon dioxide abatement from state renewable portfolio standards," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 332-350.
    2. Gaul, Chip & Carley, Sanya, 2012. "Solar set asides and renewable electricity certificates: Early lessons from North Carolina's experience with its renewable portfolio standard," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 460-469.
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    7. Arbabzadeh, Maryam & Johnson, Jeremiah X. & De Kleine, Robert & Keoleian, Gregory A., 2015. "Vanadium redox flow batteries to reach greenhouse gas emissions targets in an off-grid configuration," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 397-408.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mostafaeipour, Ali & Qolipour, Mojtaba & Mohammadi, Kasra, 2016. "Evaluation of installing photovoltaic plants using a hybrid approach for Khuzestan province, Iran," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 60-74.
    2. Novacheck, Joshua & Johnson, Jeremiah X., 2017. "Diversifying wind power in real power systems," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 177-185.
    3. Sampaio, Priscila Gonçalves Vasconcelos & González, Mario Orestes Aguirre, 2017. "Photovoltaic solar energy: Conceptual framework," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 590-601.
    4. Barbose, Galen & Wiser, Ryan & Heeter, Jenny & Mai, Trieu & Bird, Lori & Bolinger, Mark & Carpenter, Alberta & Heath, Garvin & Keyser, David & Macknick, Jordan & Mills, Andrew & Millstein, Dev, 2016. "A retrospective analysis of benefits and impacts of U.S. renewable portfolio standards," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 645-660.
    5. Valdés Lucas, Javier Noel & Escribano Francés, Gonzalo & San Martín González, Enrique, 2016. "Energy security and renewable energy deployment in the EU: Liaisons Dangereuses or Virtuous Circle?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1032-1046.
    6. Shahsavari, Amir & Akbari, Morteza, 2018. "Potential of solar energy in developing countries for reducing energy-related emissions," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 275-291.


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