Quick Reads

The distributed PV (DPV) toolkit offers resources and guidance to support developing countries address barriers to safe, effective, and accelerated deployment of small-scale, photovoltaic systems connected at the distribution-level. This page contains a list of resources which quickly address multiple barriers and opportunities to DPV growth.

Increasing Access to Grid-Tied Distributed Photovoltaics for Low-Income Populations: Considerations for Developing Countries
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2022

Governments around the world are under immense pressure to promote inclusive economic growth, reduce budget deficits, and promote sustainable development goals. Such goals may potentially be addressed through public policy approaches to encourage the use of distributed photovoltaic (DPV) systems in developing countries, particularly among low-income electricity customers. At the same time, low-income customers face numerous barriers to DPV deployment including a lack of access to capital and financing, a lack of awareness about the technology, lack of homeownership, and distorted price signals via lower retail tariffs. As a result of these factors, among others, they are often the least likely customers in developed and developing countries alike to deploy solar. However, under the right set of conditions, low-income grid tied DPV programs can offer beneficial outcomes for governments, customers, utilities, and the environment. This brief informs decision makers in developing countries as they explore ways to promote equitable access to solar energy in their communities.

Rooftop Solar PV Quality and Safety in Developing Countries--Key Issues and Potential Solutions
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2022

To scale solar PV deployment in developing countries, the technology must be safe and reliable, meeting both customer and utility expectations. However, challenges exist in achieving these goals. Because PV systems are novel and complex, most consumers are unable to distinguish between low- and high-quality systems and may invest based on price alone. Suboptimal PV system performance and safety incidents can have downstream impacts on customer adoption and the solar industry because of unmet expectations and negative publicity. Rooftop solar system components vary in quality, and inadequate training for installers can lead to poor practices.

Accelerating Deployment of Distributed Photovoltaics in Partner Countries
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2020

There is a significant opportunity to help developing countries quickly augment DPV programs, and a wealth of international experience and  expertise to draw upon to do so. USAID has launched a multi-year program to assist countries across the DPV spectrum. The National  Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is supporting USAID (and drawing on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and others) in developing and implementing pilot projects in selected USAID partner countries, collaborating with these countries to accelerate DPV market development.


As jurisdictions around the world initiate or revise distributed photovoltaic (DPV) policies and regulations amid changing market conditions, they may benefit from understanding the interaction of compensation mechanisms and installed capacity caps—two important aspects of DPV program design. This brief discusses common practices, design options, and lessons learned pertaining to these two topics. It includes examples largely derived from the experience of U.S. jurisdictions.


As countries experience increasing levels of distributed energy resources (DERs), utilities have begun experimenting with novel ways of incorporating these resources. The efforts of two utilities in the United States, SMUD in California and Con Edison in New York, are highlighted in this paper. SMUD undertook a thorough planning study to understand the effects of DERs on the grid, which included 1) forecasting adoption of DERs; 2) modeling impacts of DERs at the distribution and bulk power system level; and 3) estimating revenue impacts. To delay expensive traditional grid expansion investments, Con Edison developed a program to employ “nonwire alternatives” such as demand response, DERs and energy efficiency programs to meet growing demand in their network.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2017

DG owners can be compensated in different ways for the electricity their systems generate. This short report defines compensation mechanisms for grid-connected, behind-the-meter DG systems as instruments that comprise three core elements: (1) metering & billing arrangements, (2) sell rate design, and (3) retail rate design. This report explores metering & billing arrangements (net energy metering (NEM); buy all, sell all; and net billing), with some limited discussion of sell rate design.

Distributed Generation to Support Development-Focused Climate Action
National Renewable Energy Laboratory and USAID, 2016

DG can play a role in sustainable, low-emission, climate-resilient development worldwide. This report identifies the benefits of DG deployment in development scenarios through energy access, greenhouse gas emission mitigation, and climate resilience as well as specific actions that may enhance or increase the likelihood of climate and development benefits. Additionally, several brief case-studies of DG deployment in developing communities are included.

Grid-Integrated Distributed Solar: Addressing Challenges for Operations and Planning
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2016

Integrating DPV on a distribution system poses both unique challenges and opportunities. This factsheet reviews the barriers and provides best practices when operating and planning for distributed solar.

Distributed Solar PV for Electricity System Resiliency: Policy and Regulatory Considerations
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2014

DPV can be designed to supply electricity during grid outages. This paper presents approaches that specifically support resiliency through design of PV systems utilizing community energy storage, solar-diesel hybrid systems, and micro-grids. The paper also considers policies and regulations to support resiliency.

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