In this paper, using Lebanon's capital, Beirut, as a case study, a methodology is proposed to assess the potential for solar photovoltaics (PV) in urban areas incorporating both economic and non-economic factors. Utilizing a rich spatial dataset of solar irradiation augmented with electricity bills at the building level, the cost and benefit of installing rooftop PV systems for each building is estimated. Additionally, incentives and barriers for adopting those systems are investigated using a probabilistic choice model. The results show that Beirut city has a potential for distributed rooftop solar PV to be between 195 and 295 MWp. However, adoption rates are low at 0.49% and 1.23% for residential and commercial buildings, respectively, reflecting the limitation of financial incentives alone to promote the deployment of distributed renewable energy systems in transition economies. The impact of different incentive policy instruments and the role of solar PV in today's economic crisis in Lebanon is analyzed. The biggest impact was achieved through removing (or lowering) electricity tariff subsidy, although this option remains highly constrained by political calculus. We argue that the Lebanese government should fast-track and implement the required legal framework to facilitate and incentivize distributed power generation from renewable sources to promote both green energy and its financial resilience. The proposed modeling framework together with the results obtained in this study will have important implications for energy policy makers in Lebanon and other transition economies.