Document Type


Publication Date



Past literature in solar adoption has focused primarily on households without significant attention to the potential of commercial properties as sites for solar generation. Herein we examine firms’ decisions to install solar panels on their properties using state-level data. We are interested in the effects of state-level characteristics, including policies and regulations, on firm decisions regarding solar investments. We find that state characteristics that influence the return-on-investment from solar installations, most notably solar intensity, are important for commercial adoption decisions. Further results suggest that certain state-level policies, in particular solar carve-outs in renewable portfolio standards, financing programs and tax breaks, can incentivize firms to install solar panels. The strongest result we observe across empirical specifications is that firm installation decisions are correlated with personal electric vehicle ownership rates. This may indicate a ‘green’ business marketing strategy, whereby firms install solar to improve their social responsibility image.


The authors gratefully acknowledge funding for this research from The Nature Conservancy West Virginia branch.

This manuscript is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.