Today, many American households and businesses do not have access to solar because they rent, live in multi-tenant buildings, have roofs that are unable to host a solar system, or experience some other mitigating factor.
Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business. Community solar expands access to solar for all, including in particular low-to-moderate income customers most impacted by a lack of access, all while building a stronger, distributed, and more resilient electric grid.
Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. This model for solar is being rapidly adopted nationwide.
Quick Community Solar Facts
- There are 40 states with at least one community solar project on-line, with 2,056 cumulative megawatts installed through 2019.
- At least 19 states and D.C. have recognized the benefits of shared renewables by encouraging their growth through policy and programs (see IREC shared renewables scorecard).
- The next five years will see the U.S. community solar market add as much as 3.4 gigawatts. 3.4 GW will be able to power roughly 650,000 homes.
What is Community Solar?
Community solar allows residents, small businesses, organizations, municipalities and others to receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced from their portion of a solar array, offsetting their electricity costs.
Community solar allows for equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of an individual’s home or business. In other words, if you can’t install solar directly on your property, community solar can be a good option for accessing the savings and other benefits solar provides.
Community solar facilities are usually less than five megawatts (MW) of electrical capacity and vary in the number of acres affected. Unlike residential housing and commercial development on a sold-off farm parcel, community solar installations are generally on leased land, and well-designed systems can be returned to their original state.