Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Integrated Science and Technology


This project explores whether the Shenandoah Valley can achieve its 25x’25 goals in the residential sector using the two most feasible solar energy technologies, solar photovoltaic electric power production and solar thermal hot water generation. After a review of the barriers to the adoption of solar energy in households, the potential rates of adoption and energy output are estimated using U.S. Census data and Department of Energy data. Multiple scenarios are explored, including the “maximum theoretical” contribution of solar energy to the residential sector as well as scenarios of household behavior under different constraints. With respect to solar photovoltaic, it is argued that the “most likely” theoretical scenario is one in which about 15% of all occupied Valley households adopt a 1 kilowatt system. If that was so, then solar photovoltaic electricity would contribute about 1% of the residential sector’s total energy needs in the Shenandoah Valley. Solar thermal would meet 2.7% of the entire Valley’s energy needs. The associated carbon mitigation for solar PV is equivalent to about 5,222 passenger vehicles and 9,801 passenger vehicles for solar thermal mitigation potential.