The Law of Solar

The growth of the solar energy industry in America over the past decade has been phenomenal. In 2011, we had less than 5 gigawatts of solar capacity nationwide, while at the end of 2021 we had more than 121 gigawatts. This decade of growth has been transformational for the solar energy industry in the United States. Where previously solar energy was on the fringes of energy generation, it is now mainstream. Where previously solar energy was only for select regions, it is now found across the country. Where previously solar energy accounted for only a tiny share of energy generation, it now generates a significant portion of the energy in many markets and in recent years has been the largest share of new electric capacity additions in the United States.

The success of solar has been driven by policy – especially the federal Investment Tax Credit and state renewable energy standards – and falling prices. The cost of solar has dropped more than 60% in the last decade, which has accelerated growth for solar projects of all scales and in all regions of the country. The trend of lower costs, however, may finally be reaching its end as the industry grapples with supply chain constraints and trade tariffs on solar imports. Similarly, opportunities for expanding policy support are facing headwinds. While some states are setting ambitious zero-carbon targets as successor policies to their renewable energy standards that will heavily rely on solar deployment to meet their goals, prospects for federal energy policy have dimmed.

While the challenges today are large, the maturity, innovation, and confidence achieved by the solar industry over the last decade suggest that there is every reason to believe it will continue to thrive. Solar is flexible, scalable and suited to serve customers wherever they are – from solar panels on homes, to shared solar projects accessible to whole communities, to commercial and municipal building rooftops, to massive utility-scale projects serving tens of thousands of customers. The industry can use this flexibility and its record of innovation to build another decade of success.

Recognizing the challenges and opportunities facing solar participants, and as part of our commitment to the growth and success of the renewable energy industry, in 2003, Stoel Rives developed its first publication in The Law of series. Today we are introducing a revised and updated sixth edition of The Law of Solar, the newest installment in our continuing efforts to provide easily accessible information for individuals and companies interested in growing America’s renewable energy resources. This guide contains insights we have gained from practical experience assisting participants in numerous solar energy projects covering a diverse range of sizes and installations, as well as our experiences serving the U.S. renewable energy industry.

We hope you find this guide useful. Please note that PDF versions of this document are available for downloading at no charge via our website,

Let us know how well it serves your needs—any suggestions or comments on how it could be improved are most welcome. Also, you can follow our summaries of and comments on important developments in the industry through our Energy Law Alerts and in our Renewable + Law Blog.

Media Contact

Jamie Moss (newsPRos)
Media Relations
w. 201.493.1027 c. 201.788.0142

Mac Borkgren
Senior Manager, Marketing Communications & Operations


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