Solar Renewable Energy Credit Price Volatility and Investment Returns: Have Policies Stranded Capital Investment?


  • Somayeh Youssefi
  • Patrick L. Gurian



Pennsylvania is one of a number of U.S. states that provide incentives for the generation of electricity by solar energy through Solar Renewal Energy Credits (SRECs). This article develops a return on investment model for solar energy generation in the PJM (mid-­Atlantic) region of the United States. Model results indicate that SREC values of roughly $150 are needed for residential scale systems to break even over a 25-­year project period at 3% interest. Market prices for SRECs in Pennsylvania have been well below this range from late 2011 through the first half of 2016, indicating that previous capital investments in solar generation have been stranded as a result of steep declines in the value of SRECs. A simple conceptual supply and demand model is developed to explain the sharp decline in market prices for SRECs. Also discussed is a possible policy remedy that would add unsold SRECs in a given year to the SREC quota for the subsequent year.