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Solar Market Pathways (SMP) is an effort funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to drive down the cost of solar energy and accelerate deployment in communities across the United States. The program is run through the Solar Energy Technologies Office, which seeks to make solar cost competitive, advance grid-integration approaches, increase demand response, and address key market barriers in order to enable greater solar adoption. From 2015-2018, 14 Solar Market Pathways awardees developed strategies to expand solar electricity use for residential, community, and commercial properties.

Solar has been the fastest growing source of new electricity in the United States since 2014. The cost of solar has decreased 60% in five years and there are now more jobs in solar energy than in coal. Our challenge is to continue and accelerate this trajectory and to make the cost of solar comparable (or less) than other sources of power by 2020. To do this, Solar Market Pathways creates new approaches, tackling long-standing challenges, creating new partnerships, and targeting key sectors. The tools and strategies developed through the program are invaluable models that can be replicated in communities across the U.S.

About the National Coordinator Team

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) leads the Solar Market Pathways National Coordinator Team. Together, with our partners, we support the 14 SMP projects, provide opportunities for peer learning and exchange, and disseminate their best practices and lessons learned.

An international nonprofit organization, the ISC has over 25 years of practical experience working with local leaders to accelerate climate change and sustainability solutions. ISC’s programs are designed to facilitate peer learning and engagement among local leaders charged with the work of making their communities more sustainable. ISC has led more than 103 projects in 30 countries, and currently works in China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and the United States.

Our Partners

Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

IREC is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose goal is to enable greater use of clean energy in a sustainable way by expanding consumer access to clean energy, identifying and advancing best practices and standards, and leading national efforts to build a quality-trained clean energy workforce. IREC’s team includes the nation’s most renowned thought leaders and experts on shared solar, solar permitting, interconnection standards, solar industry trends, and workforce development. With over three decades of experience expanding solar markets across the country, IREC has become a go-to-resource for the public and private sectors, and our engagement in over 40 states has helped open nascent solar markets, expand existing markets, and address challenges in high penetration markets. Through all of our efforts, we collaborate closely with national laboratories, regulators, utilities, industry, and national, local, and regional groups to identify, refine and put into practice best practices for renewables energy markets. Learn more at

National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. Learn more at

Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)

The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) is a global, nonprofit team of experts focused on the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the power sector. RAP provides technical and policy assistance on regulatory and market policies that promote economic efficiency, environmental protection, system reliability, and the fair allocation of system benefits among consumers. RAP works extensively in the US, China, the European Union, and India. Visit to learn more.

Solar Market Pathways is a program of the Solar Energy Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) supports a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SETO, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more.

The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-EE0006907.

The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.