ORIGINAL REPORTING: Net zero energy homes and solar communities
Rise of net zero energy homes could boost utility-led community solar; Modeling of new energy-efficient home developments found community solar offers system advantages not available from rooftop solar.
Herman K. Trabish |July 19, 2018 (Utility Dive)
The newest partnership to come from the rise of distributed generation could be between utilities and new home developers. Customer demand for distributed energy resources (DER) has already created new partnerships for utilities with their customers and with DER providers. Policies to support state climate and clean energy goals are aimed more and more at increasing customer access to DER. Among them are net zero energy (NZE) initiatives for new homes. A new approach to NZE, validated in research released May 1 by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), could put new renewable resources to work and form the foundation for new uses of community solar and new partnerships between utilities and NZE homebuilders.
The new partnerships could mean big new opportunities for the utilities, homebuilders and developers of community solar and other distributed renewables. Support for the NZE concept produced 1,153 NZE projects in the U.S. in 2017, an increase of 56% over 2016, according to the 2017 Net Zero Energy Coaliton report. That included 6,059 NZE buildings, up 49% from 2016, and 13,906 NZE units, up 70%. California accounted for 5,279 units, far more than second-place Arizona's 1,021 units. Units would be part of small NZE multifamily apartment and condominium complexes. They could also be units in larger housing projects. A landmark addition to California's building code, approved in May 2018, mandates that all new homes built from 2020 include advanced energy efficiencies and solar. It was widely credited as an important boost for rooftop solar. But a little-noticed provision allows developers to use community solar instead of rooftop solar if they so choose… click here for more
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