Going Solar

Academic Books and Articles Journal Articles

Revised Estimates of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Rooftop PV Deployment in the United States.

2023 Journal article by Fedor Dokshin and Brian Thiede in Nature Sustainability corrects previous estimates of racial disparities in rooftop solar panel use in the US.

We report our discovery of significant problems with Sunter, Castellanos, and Kammen’s (SCK) recent study of racial and ethnic disparities in rooftop PV deployment published in Nature Sustainability. First, we identify irregularities in SCK’s reported procedures and results that are statistically implausible. Second, we report results from a failed replication of their analyses. We correct the implausible absolute deployment figures and identify racial and ethnic disparities that differ substantially from those reported by SCK. We also extend SCK’s analysis, showing that white-majority tracts have the largest deployment advantages in states with the most developed PV markets, whereas deployment estimates in Black and other minority-majority tracts are (artificially) inflated by relatively higher deployment in states with very little solar. In our view, an accurate accounting of racial and ethnic disparities in PV deployment is necessary to develop interventions that effectively and equitably promote sustainable energy transitions.

Dokshin and Thiele

Project Lead