Monday, August 22, 2016

Community Solar Gardens Are All The Rage

Community Solar Gardens gain in popularity 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.

A TED Talk about Community Solar Gardens

“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.”

From Think Progress

By Ari Philllips

Read the rest

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