The Rapid Rise of Community Solar Gardens and How They Could Change Everything

Written by on July 13, 2015 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 0 Comments

Ari Phillips | Think Progress


For much of the recent rise of solar power, the industry has been divided in two: distributed rooftop solar, and utility-scale solar parks. According to a new report from GTM Research, a third type of solar in which consumers share renewable energy installations is set to take off this year — and to represent a large market share of the industry by 2020.

Known as community solar, solar gardens, or more simply shared solar, GTM researchers found that the U.S. “market is approaching a tipping point.” With a total of 66 megawatts installed cumulatively by the end of 2014, the report predicts that installations will grow five-fold in 2015, with 115 megawatts installed. By 2020, there will be 1.8 gigawatts, nearly equivalent to the total amount of solar power installed in the United States in 2012.

Designed for those without rooftop access, these shared solar projects will open up opportunities for some 50 percent of current U.S. households and businesses that are unable to host a photovoltaic system due to site unsuitability, ownership, or multi-unit status, according to a recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis. The analysis found that by bringing shared solar to these households and businesses that are unable to host on-site PV, shared solar could represent 32 to 49 percent of the distributed solar market in 2020, representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment.

“Historically, PV business models and regulatory environments have not been designed to expand access to a significant portion of potential PV system customers,” said David Feldman, NREL energy analyst and lead author on the report. “As a result, the economic, environmental, and social benefits of distributed PV have not been available to all consumers.”

The GTM analysis found that while there are 24 states with at least one community solar project in operation, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota will install the bulk of the community solar projects at least for the next two years.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration added to the momentum by announcing a new Energy Department program to help build community solar systems as part of a larger effort to install 300 megawatts of solar power in subsidized housing by 2020. White House officials including Brian Deese, Obama’s top energy advisor, told reporters that around half of all U.S. households don’t have access to solar because they are renting or don’t have enough usable space.

“We need to expand opportunities for more families to reap the benefits of using cleaner sources of energy that can also help households save money on their utility bills,” said Deese.

In most instances of community solar, third-party solar developers will contract with utilities to sell them electricity and then go about finding subscribers. In places where community solar legislation isn’t yet in place, utilities will sometimes take on a larger share of the developer’s responsibilities, including customer acquisition and project ownership.

GTM Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman, who authored the report, told ThinkProgress that in all four leading states, legislation helped catalyze community solar development growth.

“In the near term, the rapid growth is pegged to ambitious community solar legislation finally heating up outside of Colorado, and a flurry of development activity in those states from both longstanding community solar developers and leading rooftop solar companies including SolarCity, SunEdison, and NRG,” said Honeyman.

Two of the main longstanding third-party solar developers operating in the United States right now are Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective and Sunshare. According to GTM, these two companies combined have 32 percent of the community solar industry market share.


Tags: , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use' must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.

Send this to a friend