ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar At The Edge Of A Boom
Community solar poised for growth as utilities gain confidence, familiarity; Two new reports detail a bright future for community solar as utilities get more experience and realize the resource's potential
Herman K. Trabish, April 7, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Community solar continues to wrestle with regulatory complications and slowly grow toward fulfilling its potential.
Momentum continues to gather behind the emerging concept that offers solar for people who don’t have solar suitable roofs or other means of access to it. Although a 2015 Deloitte survey showed almost two-thirds of consumers are interested in solar, studies show as many as three-fourths may not have access. Increasingly, investor-owned utilities (IOUs), municipal utilities, and rural electric cooperatives are discovering they can fill that gap with community solar, according to Deloitte’s Unlocking the value of community solar.
Financial consultant CohnReznick’s recent brief Can Community Solar Bring Renewable Energy to the Masses? confirms the huge potential of community solar as an alternative to rooftop solar. It offers several options. Projects can be developed and owned by utilities or other third parties. Customers can either pay upfront for a portion of the project’s output or for a portion of a project’s capacity and can either pay an entire amount up front or pay periodically. The market has grown from two projects in 2010 to over 111 representing an estimated 200 MW by the end of 2016. A wide range of factors attracts utilities, developers and customers to community solar. The most important determinant of future growth will be enabling legislation and regulatory actions but the question is not whether the market will grow but by how much, according to CohnReznick… click here for more