Dedicating a 31-kilowatt photovoltaic array at Rainshadow Community Charter High School, in Reno, Nevada. BlackRock Solar (CC BY)

Community solar is rapidly growing in North America. With ambitious green energy goals, each the US and Canada are desirous about maximizing renewable energy uptake in residential communities.

Nonetheless, with many individuals renting their homes, having insufficient funds to speculate in a solar installation, or having poor roof conditions (as a result of shading or roof size), community solar offers a promising solution.

What’s Community Solar?

Simply put, a community solar project is a central solar energy plant with electricity shared by greater than a single property. Customers profit from inexpensive renewable energy generated by solar panels at an off-site array.

You might have heard of community solar projects known as solar gardens, shared solar, or roofless solar.

Although the dimensions of community solar projects can vary immensely, they’re typically measured in megawatts and able to supplying power to tons of and even 1000’s of homes, businesses, nonprofits, and other buildings.

Community Solar projects make renewable energy more accessible

Shared solar provides renters, homeowners, nonprofits, businesses, and other groups equal access to solar energy’s economic and environmental advantages.

You don’t need an initial lump-sum investment to participate or an acceptable rooftop. In reality, you don’t even must be a property owner. It allows more people to go green and profit from lower electricity costs.

Relating to implementing community solar programs, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Laws and regulations surrounding shared solar vary dramatically by location.


The primary panel owners in front of the Flathead Electric SUN (solar utility network), Montana’s first community solar project, in the course of the dedication ceremony in September 2015. Doris Schennum stands at the middle, wearing a white shirt.
(Flathead Electric)

How does community solar work?

Community solar business models vary by location. Policies that enable community solar include laws in place to support a third-party market.

There are lots of options on the subject of structuring community solar projects. In some cases, interested solar customers should buy or lease a portion of the solar panels in an array after which receive a credit on their bill from the electricity generated by their share of the system. This offsets their monthly electricity costs.

If subscribers move to a recent home throughout the same utility service territory, they’ll typically proceed to profit from their community solar shares. Some business models even have options for selling and donating subscriptions.

In other community solar projects, it’s possible to purchase renewable energy generated by the system as you’d from other electricity providers without owning or leasing a portion of the solar array.

Along with the more common off-site model for community solar, multi-family community solar projects make it possible for residents of apartments and condos to profit from the energy produced by a rooftop array on their constructing.

How can developers and utilities profit from Community Solar?

Developing shared solar arrays will help developers and utilities strengthen customer relationships while increasing community engagement. With more people desirous about going green day by day, utilities who participate stand a greater probability at retaining customers.

Since most community solar projects are off-site, developers can strategically select a location that may produce probably the most power in an area that the utility has ensured may have the grid capability to support it.

This manner, community solar projects create a shared renewable energy market that advantages all parties involved, including subscribers, developers, and utilities.

Final thoughts

Community solar projects improve access to renewable energy for all.

Particularly, shared solar helps low-income customers who’re currently most impacted by a scarcity of access. Community solar has the potential to assist countries meet their ambitious climate goals, all while constructing a stronger, higher distributed, and more resilient electric grid.

This article was originally published on the PowerHub Blog. It’s published here via a partnership with the platform.


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