Because of shading, building ownership and structure issues, only about 22%-27% of all American rooftops are suitable for solar panel installation. This means that the majority of people will have a hard time contributing to the solar movement. Luckily things are about to change.
Shared Solar Communities
A lot has been happening in regards to community-owned solar lately. Just a few days ago, the Community Shared Solar Bill, SB 843, passed the critical Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee in California. This bill enables and encourages households and businesses that otherwise wouldn’t be suitable for solar panels, because of shading, low credit scores and high upfront costs, to participate in shared solar.
Several states have enabled virtual net metering already, and more are in the process of doing so. This means that a net meter account can be shared among several households (or members of a solar community), and everyone involved will be paid in terms of a reduction in their electricity bill equivalent to their share of the solar system.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently published “A Guide to Community Shared Solar: Utility, Private, and Nonprofit Project Development” to help those wanting to make or participate in a shared solar project.
Two other models of the shared solar community, bypassing the need for virtual net metering, puts the utility or another independent company in charge of the solar panels, and from here a financial model is selected to benefit the local residents that sign up as subscribers.
PV Solar Report and Sunrun released an executive brief that concluded 80% growth the solar market through May 31, 2012 as compared to the same timeframe in 2011.
And just before this, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said that solar installations nationwide have grown by 85 percent in the last year.
“As costs continue to drop and more homeowners realize they can go solar without high upfront payments, adoption will scale exponentially” stated Sunrun’s president Lynn Jurich.
There is no doubt that the solar market is starting to open up. Times are transitioning from when solar panels only were feasible for households that were optimally suitable both in regards of a good spot and a good financial situation.
For anyone who lives in an apartment building or are too scared of the high upfront costs, looking into third-party owned and shared community solar is absolutely worth a shot.
Article by Mathias Aarre Maehlum of Energy Informative.