To date, solar power has primarily been available to big power plants, individual homes, and business owners. But what about the people who are not utility executives and do not have the money or suitable rooftops? Many people love solar power but may not have any way to get directly involved in it.
Thankfully, that situation is rapidly changing, thanks to the growth of shared solar and community solar.
What is Community Solar?
Community Solar is essentially any solar power installation that shares the energy with more than one property. It instantly connects to a solar farm within the local community without installing solar panels. This accomplishes two things; you can get solar energy without spending any money and getting a guaranteed discount on electric bills. Win-win all round!
Community Solar is a relatively new concept and can also be called:
- Solar Gardens
- Solar Farms
- Community Solar Farms
- Shared Solar Farms
- Roofless Solar
- Shared Solar
- Energy Sharing
- Virtual Net Metering
It has many more aliases, but those are the main ones to remember.
How does Community Solar work?
It may work differently for most places, but the main principle is you can either “purchase” or “lease” community solar from a large number of providers.
In a lease, community solar providers can “rent” out their electricity to you, similarly to how utility companies have been doing. The difference is that you know that electricity from a community solar farm was provided without carbon emissions from traditional utility energy. Some communities may pay a premium for this privilege.
On the other hand, some private development makes it possible to actually “purchase” a part of a community solar farm, even if you don’t see the site in person. You can virtually substitute the energy from the solar provider with your current power, making it possible to go green without modifying your home or property.
Purchasing a piece of a community solar garden will almost save you more on the cost of electricity than a similar lease of the use of traditional utility energy. However, short-term leases are great ways to buy specific amounts of green energy without being tied down to a significant asset.
Financial Benefits of Community Solar
Thanks to Virtual Net Metering, households or businesses can receive the net metering credits associated with a renewable energy project installed at a remote location. These credits are worth as much or close to as much as one would pay for electricity from their utility. For example, every unity of electricity generated by the community solar farm will effectively reduce the participant’s power bill either as a one-for-one kilowatt-hour basis or as a monetary credit.
Is Community Solar worth it?
In short, yes, community solar is full of benefits. As well as generating electricity that helps the environment clean energy, it also allows home and business owners to save on electricity costs. Over time, as the market matures and the popularity of shared solar spreads, owning some solar power of your own will become routine. The administrative aspects will be more accessible to adapt to local circumstances, and the growth will accelerate. Share solar is heading for a boom!