Community Solar- The Best Available Solution for A Community To Go Solar
November 20, 2023
Community solar has emerged as a powerful and inclusive solution to harnessing renewable energy in the United States. With the ability to bring clean energy benefits to a broader audience, it offers an alternative for individuals and businesses who may not have the means or suitable infrastructure to install solar panel on their properties. This article explores the current state of community solar in the US, highlights policy support and Govt subsidy on solar panel from various states and the federal government, presents facts and figures on its current capacity, and discusses the road ahead for this promising renewable energy sector.
Community solar, also known as shared solar or solar gardens, allows multiple participants to benefit from a single solar energy system. According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), community solar has experienced significant growth in recent years. As of 2023, the country boasts an impressive installed community solar capacity of over 5 gigawatts (GW) and Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) announced 30 gigawatts (GW) of community solar by 2030. This capacity represents a significant increase since 2021 and is a testament to the growing popularity and potential of community solar projects nationwide using solar systems.
Various states have recognized the importance of community solar and have implemented policies to support its expansion. These policies aim to remove regulatory barriers, provide financial incentives, and promote equitable access to renewable energy. Here are some notable boost-up policies as of 2023:
Massachusetts: The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program continues to incentivize community solar projects by offering long-term financial incentives to developers and investors. This program has been instrumental in fostering community solar growth in the state and encouraged solar panel manufacturers in USA.
New York: New York’s Community Distributed Generation (CDG) program provides opportunities for individuals and businesses to subscribe to local community solar projects. Participants receive credits on their electricity bills based on the energy generated by their share of the community solar system.
Minnesota: The state’s Value of Solar (VOS) program ensures fair compensation for community solar subscribers. With support, community solar in this state accounts for at least 826 MW across 400 sites and has close to 28,000 subscribers. The VOS program provides a transparent pricing structure that takes into account the environmental and societal benefits of solar energy. Recently, this state announced a policy for low-to-middle income residential subscribers to receive greater benefits, namely reduced energy bills, by gaining greater access to Community Solar Garden (CSG) program.
At the federal level, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) remains a significant driver of the demand for solar panel manufacturers in USA and community solar growth. The ITC allows participants to receive a federal tax credit for a portion of their investment in solar energy projects. This incentive has played a crucial role in encouraging the development of community solar across the country.
Despite its rapid growth, community solar still faces certain challenges. These include regulatory barriers, limited consumer awareness, and the need for more standardized policies and procedures across states. To overcome these obstacles, local authorities must continue to support community solar initiatives. They can do so by implementing streamlined permitting processes, ensuring fair compensation mechanisms for community solar subscribers, and investing in public awareness campaigns to educate consumers about the benefits of participating in such programs.
Furthermore, collaborations between utilities, developers, and community organizations are vital to the success of community solar. These partnerships can facilitate the identification of suitable sites for solar installations, provide affordable financing options, select the right supplier with best offerings and services like Vikram solar products and ensure equitable access for underserved communities.
Community solar is an essential tool in the transition to a clean energy future in the United States. Its ability to empower individuals, businesses, and communities using solar systems to benefit from renewable energy without the need for upfront costs or property ownership is invaluable.
Local authorities should give a strong push to community solar by implementing supportive policies, providing incentives, and raising awareness among their constituents. With continued support and collaboration, community solar has the potential to transform the energy landscape with PVEL certified high efficient solar panels, create more demand for solar panel manufacturers in USA and create a sustainable green energy future in the US.