Harnessing the Sun: A Closer Look at Renewable Energy in Our Suburbs

Hello everyone, Scott here again. As the renewable energy playing field continues to evolve at a rapid pace, relying on traditional grid power seems a distant thought of the past. Today, it appears that the solar revolution is firmly on the horizon, and community solar is a significant player leading the forefront of this epochal change.

Community solar projects are an ingenious solution for those who want to harness the benefits of solar, but are unable to accommodate an individual solar array for home use. This ingenious model opens the door to solar energy for whole communities, rather a exclusive club for individuals with large, sun-drenched rooftops. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Being a solar enthusiast, I’m excited to share a bit of good news: community solar in the U.S. is on course to smash through the 14 GW line by 2028 – that’s more than twice the current capacity, folks! With a large number of states and even Washington D.C. pushing out effective policies and programs to support its growth, community solar is looking promising. Strong markets, like New York and Illinois are leading the charge, and their success can serve as a blueprint for other states to follow.

What’s truly electrifying is, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has reported that community solar, with the right support, is capable of producing up to a colossal terawatt of capacity. Let me break down what a terawatt of solar can do for you. It can power 53 million households and over 300,000 businesses that would otherwise be unable to access rooftop solar.

Community solar shares are the golden ticket for customers whose rooftops might not be suitable or who might not have the financial clout to afford private solar panels for their home. They can tap into a local solar asset, receive credit for the power generated, and bask in the glory of helping the environment while saving on their electricity bills.

Hitting the DOE’s 20 GW target by 2025 would be pretty spectacular, able to power roughly 5 million households, create $1 billion in energy savings for subscribers and would be an environmental triple whammy. But ramping up to this target will require legislators and industry representatives to put their heads together and keep nurturing third-party community solar programs.

Annually, we are installing about 1 GW of community solar and predicting an 8% average yearly growth through to 2028. While these numbers are encouraging, to meet the set goals, we need more state and utility-level support, and a close-knit collaboration with third-party developers.

Shining a light on the social impact of community solar, it is heartening to see an increase in low-to-middle-income (LMI) subscribers, from 2% in H2 2022 to 10% in H2 2023. The icing on the cake is that the subscribing cost for these LMI customers has seen a year-on-year decline of 30%.

Crunching the numbers from the NREL report, if the U.S. achieves 20 GW of community solar by 2025, the combined benefits would be breathtaking:

– Subscriber electricity costs could drop by $110 million to $330 million a year.
– Between 210,000 to 630,000 LMI households would be impacted positively.
– Around $50 million to $160 million a year would be generated in grid resilience and service value.
– Economic implications for host communities could range from $20 million to $160 million per year.
– An astounding 7,000 permanent jobs would be supported.

So, while solar companies and platforms are putting their best foot forward to build robust solar infrastructure, it’s heartening to know that community solar has a significant role to play. Its potential to provide affordable and sustainable energy solutions, particularly for underserved communities, is mind-blowing. Meanwhile, it’s also pushing the boundary for economic development and job creation in the renewable energy sector.

As we anticipate an exciting future with more community solar installations, keep in mind that federal funding will play a crucial role. According to the Wood Mackenzie report, the community solar industry will start feeling the impact of the inflation Reduction Act as early as this year. So sit tight and prepare for an electric year ahead!

Stay tuned for more updates on community solar and everything that’s keeping the renewable energy space abuzz. Until then, keep the sunny side up!

Original Articlehttps://pv-magazine-usa.com/2024/02/28/the-importance-of-community-solar-in-all-of-the-above-renewable-energy-strategy/

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