More Lower Income Households Adopted Solar in the US Between 2010-2021

Installations in disadvantaged communities more than doubled to 11% between 2010-2021


A higher share of households with lower incomes in the U.S. have been adopting solar over the past 11 years, which has brought down the median household income for solar adopters by 14% to $110,000/year in 2021 compared with 2010, a report published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) showed.

However, the report said, these households are still 76% richer compared with the median income of U.S. households which stands at $63,0000/year. The median income of solar adopters is higher relative to national median incomes, partly because roughly half of the solar adopters are in California, a relatively high-income state, the report said.

The report detailing income and other socio-economic trends of 2.8 million residential solar adopters found that the U.S. solar market has steadily broadened into low- and middle-income states of America since 2016, reaching 15% and 26% of installations made in 2021, respectively. Texas is a mid-income state, while Florida is a low-income one.

One-third of all solar adopter households in 2021 earned between $50,000 and $100,000, while 15% of adopters were below that range and around 52% were above the specified range.

Most states show lower-income households adopting solar over time, with an average 1-2% drop annually between 2010 and 2021.

12% of PV systems in 2021 were paired with storage

The report said that a major contribution to the variations in incomes could be from households with lower-to-moderate income (LMI), with 22% of all adopters in 2021 earning less than 80% of area median income and an additional 21% between 80% and 120% of area median income.

The incomes of solar adopters have consistently remained higher for systems paired with battery storage, host-owned systems, and for systems installed on buildings accommodating single families. Around 12% of PV systems in the 2021 sample considered in the report were paired with storage.

Disadvantaged communities under-represented

The percentage of residential solar installations more than doubled to 11% in 2021 from 5% in 2010 in disadvantaged communities.

However, the Berkeley report said that despite the improvement in the adoption rate, Disadvantaged communitieremain under-represented, given that they comprise 18% of the total U.S. households.

While the DACs are 15-20% of households in all states, which is fairly uniform across states, the percentage of photovoltaic adopters in DACs varies widely, from 6% to 46%, but it is typically less than 20%.

According to another report by LBNL released last month, the median installed prices of solar PV systems across most American states fell year-over-year, with the residential segment recording average annual declines of up to $0.2/ W annually.