NEWS New article on the racial disparities in installed rooftop solar in the US .

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Not every­one is ben­e­fit­ing equally from the avail­abil­ity of new solar energy tech­nolo­gies, a new study by researchers at UC Berke­ley and Tufts Uni­ver­sity shows.

To access and down­load the paper, click here.

By com­bin­ing remote sens­ing data from Google’s Project Sun­roof with cen­sus tract infor­ma­tion, the researchers dis­cov­ered sig­nif­i­cant racial dis­par­i­ties in the adop­tion of rooftop solar photovoltaics.

Our work illus­trates that while solar can be a pow­er­ful tool for cli­mate pro­tec­tion and social equity, biases and bar­ri­ers to access can dra­mat­i­cally weaken the social ben­e­fit,” said Daniel Kam­men, pro­fes­sor and chair of energy in the Energy and Resources Group and, pro­fes­sor in the Gold­man School of Pub­lic Pol­icy and direc­tor of the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Laboratory.

For house­holds with the same median house­hold income, black– and Hispanic-​​majority cen­sus tracts had fewer rooftop solar pho­to­voltaics installed com­pared with those areas with no major­ity eth­nic group, by 69 and 30 per­cent, respec­tively. White-​​majority cen­sus tracts had installed 21 per­cent more.

When cor­rect­ing for home own­er­ship, black– and Hispanic-​​majority cen­sus tracts had fewer rooftop pho­to­voltaics installed by 61 and 45 per­cent, respec­tively, com­pared with no-​​majority tracts, while white-​​majority cen­sus tracts had installed 37 per­cent more.

The Green New Deal and other envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice efforts can use our find­ings to build a bet­ter and more inclu­sive energy tran­si­tion,” said Kam­men, who is also a fel­low of the Berke­ley Insti­tute for Data Sci­ence and is a for­mer Sci­ence Envoy for the U.S. State Department.

Advances in remote sens­ing and in ‘big data’ sci­ence mean that we are now able to take a unique look at not just where solar is deployed, but to com­bine that with cen­sus and demo­graphic data to chart also who gets to ben­e­fit from the solar energy rev­o­lu­tion, and there­fore think deeper about the effec­tive­ness of cur­rent poli­cies and approaches to accel­er­ate solar pho­to­voltaic deploy­ment,” said Ser­gio Castel­lanos, a post­doc­toral scholar in the Energy and Resources Group and research fac­ulty in the Cen­ter for Energy and the Envi­ron­ment.  The lead author for the paper is Deb­o­rah Sunter, for­mer RAEL post­doc­toral fel­low and now Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at Tufts Uni­ver­sity.

The find­ings were pub­lished Jan. 10 in the jour­nal Nature Sus­tain­abil­ity. Kammen’s Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory is on the web at rael​.berke​ley​.edu, where the data for the study can be found.


Feb­ru­ary 11, 2019: For cov­er­age in The Atlantic & The Pacific Stan­dard, click here.

Jan­u­ary 28: For cov­er­age in Forbesclick here.

Jan­u­ary 14: For cov­er­age in Green­tech­me­diaclick here.

Jan­u­ary 11: For cov­er­age in Sci­encedailyclick here.

Jan­u­ary 11: For cov­er­age in Solar Power Worldclick here.

Jan­u­ary 10: For the Col­lege of Nat­ural Resources story, click here.



Fig­ure: Grid Alter­na­tives solar instal­la­tion in Bayview-Hunter’s Point, with Sen­a­tor Kevin de Leon and Daniel Kammen


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