• A report by researchers from Tufts University, and University of California, Berkeley point out disparity in rooftop solar PV deployment in the US
  • It reflects in the form of racial and ethnic differences leading to lower rooftop solar deployment rate in the country
  • On home ownership basis, black and Hispanic majority census tracts have 61% and 45% less rooftop PV installed when compared with no majority tracts. White majority census tracts show 37% more installed capacity
  • Assessment of same median income households show there is 69% less installed rooftop solar capacity in black and 30% less in Hispanic majority census tracts, while white dominated census tracts show 21% more installation

Racial and ethic differences in the US are putting limits on the economic benefits rooftop solar PV has to offer from reaching out to some sections in the society, according to a report on disparities in rooftop photovoltaics deployment in the United States by race and ethnicity. It was published in the journal Nature Sustainability on January 10, 2019.

The authors of the report combined the location of existing and potential sites for rooftop PV from Google’s Project Sunroof with demographic information from the American Community Survey. Apart from the expected disparities of household income and home ownership in terms of racial and ethnic differences, the study found that ‘significant racial disparity’ despite factoring in these differences.

As per the findings, among the same median income households there is 69% less installed rooftop solar capacity in black and 30% less in Hispanic majority census tracts, while white dominated census tracts show 21% more installed capacity.

On home ownership basis, black and Hispanic majority census tracts have 61% and 45% less rooftop PV installed when compared with no majority tracts. White majority census tracts show 37% more installed capacity, according to the research team from Tufts University and University of California, Berkeley.

The authors of the report write, “Although the opportunities this affords for clean, reliable power are transformative, the benefits might not accrue to all individuals and communities.” Adding, “This analysis reveals the racial and ethnic injustice in rooftop solar participation.”

The study claims a lack of seed or first-mover customers in certain such communities, but when seeding does occur in communities of color, deployment significantly increases compared to other racial or ethnic groups.

In April 2018, a research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) said low-to-moderate income households in the US offer rooftop solar potential of 320 GW, even as it is concentrated in higher income households (see 320 GW PV Potential From US Low-Income Households).