Harnessing the Sun: A Diverse Community’s Journey into Solar Energy Equity

Hello everyone, welcome back to my solar blog where we discuss all things under the glowing sun – or rather, the benefits of that infinitely shining celestial orb. Today, let’s delve into an aspect of solar energy that’s proving to be a true game changer: community solar. Many solar companies today are increasingly focused on developing community solar as a method of increasing solar access, especially for members of society who may have previously found it difficult or impractical to adopt rooftop solar.

For those unfamiliar with community solar, it’s essentially a shared solar platform that makes solar energy accessible to those who live in multifamily housing, don’t own their rooftops, struggle with the upfront cost of solar, or whose roofs are simply not oriented favorably for solar. By subscribing to a local community solar array, people can directly benefit from solar energy generation without having to install solar panels for their home.

Recent studies by Lawrence Berkley National Labs (LBNL) and Wood Mackenzie attest to the value of community solar. Their findings highlight that community solar subscribers are six times more likely to live in multifamily housing and four times more likely to rent. This underlines the fact that community solar is undeniably increasing equity in our energy system – and doing so at accelerating speeds.

Moreover, Wood Mackenzie found that the share of community solar serving low-to-moderate income (LMI) subscribers grew from a mere 2% to a whopping 10% within just a year. Simultaneously, costs decreased substantially by 30%. Prognoses for the next decade also come bearing optimistic news: the national total of community solar installations is expected to surpass 10 GW of cumulative capacity by 2026, with 7.6 GWdc of new community solar predicted to come online in existing state markets between 2024 and 2028.

This data certainly shows that solar companies are doing their part to increase solar adoption. But what’s really driving this movement? LBNL researchers aimed to answer this by examining what propelled community solar participation – business models or policy? Their findings concluded that both are equally influential. Community solar business models work by removing adoption barriers, allowing households to adopt solar without owning a home or having exclusive access to a rooftop. This particularly appeals to those who live in multifamily buildings or who rent.

Policy intervention, on the other hand, has been found to provide targeted support to help low-income households adopt community solar. These findings indicate that while solar companies are doing their part, policy measures are equally essential for ensuring the effective spread of solar energy through the concept of community solar.

What’s more, this equitable energy access is expected to surge substantially as more state policies aim to serve LMI customers. Particularly, the $7 billion infusion from the EPA’s Solar for All competition will play a huge role in accelerating LMI adoption.

In conclusion, if you’ve considered getting involved in the solar industry, but don’t have the means to install solar panels for your home, don’t be discouraged. Community solar is a viable and increasingly popular alternative. It serves as a testament to the collaborative power of solar companies, policy makers, and individuals alike, united under the goal of expanding solar access to everyone. A shining example of communal effort indeed!

Thank you for joining me in today’s exploration of community solar. Be sure to stay tuned to the blog for more updates on the vibrant solar industry. Until then, let’s continue to harness the sun’s power and light up our world – sustainably and equitably.

Original Articlehttps://pv-magazine-usa.com/2024/06/10/community-solar-increases-energy-equity-report-finds/

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