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Growing large defect-free semiconductor nanowires (NW) on lattice-mismatched substrates is important for solar cell applications. Here, we evaluate the critical dimensions of NWs in several strain-releasing growth configurations of interest to experimentalists. We quantify the expected increase in NW volume that may be grown coherently for NWs stacked on lattice mismatched pillars and embedded quantum dot (QD) layers, compared to NWs grown on simple substrates. We also calculate the variations in strain energy for NWs positioned off-axis from embedded QDs, as may occur during fabrication. We predict significant increases in coherent NW volume allowing greater absorption efficiency in solar cells.