The US community solar market, which already has more than 1 gigawatt of projects installed, is set to boom. It’s expected to grow at least 50 times in size and up to 80 times in size by 2030. That means there could by at least 57 gigawatts of community solar projects in the US and up to 84 GWs by then, enough to serve nearly 9 million people in the US and provide 2.5 percent of the US’s electric generation.
That’s a according to a new report, The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap to 2030, conducted by GTM Research on behalf of Vote Solar in partnership with GRID Alternatives and the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA). The report discusses how the US can reach that as states implement policies to allow and encourage community solar with $120 billion in investments.
“Community solar is an important piece of a strong clean energy economy that benefits everyone, and the policy decisions taking place all across the country right now will determine how big it is and how fast we get there,” said Marta Tomic, Vote Solar’s community solar program director. “This research underscores the critical role that states have to play in unlocking the full potential of community solar by designing programs that translates low-cost solar power into tangible bill savings and other economic benefits for customers. We are ready to work with lawmakers and regulators across the country to design smart community solar programs that expand solar access to all customers, build a more resilient electric grid, and create more good local jobs in the nation’s new energy economy.”
One of the opportunities that community solar offers over rooftop solar is the ability to provide clean, low-cost electricity for low-income people as well as those who live in apartments and condos who can’t go solar on their residences. It can also make it easier for schools and businesses to go solar. The report estimated that up to 75 percent of utility consumers in the US can’t go solar on their own rooftops.
“The community solar model has tremendous potential to reduce energy costs and create value for low-income customers,” said Tom Figel, Policy & Regulatory Manager at GRID Alternatives. “This study shows that with the appropriate policies and support, community solar can create solar access for 50 million low-income customers, while driving significant economic opportunity and job creation for communities most in need.”
“This report makes it clear that community solar is ready to scale and play a meaningful role in our country’s overall energy mix,” added Jeff Cramer, CCSA’s executive director. “Now we need state policymakers to enable smart community solar programs that bring tangible economic benefits and expand solar access to all customer types, from low-income families to major businesses.”
The GTM report also discussed what’s holding the community solar industry back. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia have community solar policies. To grow the industry more states will have to create policies. It also said that states will have to enact community solar policies to ensure low-income people have access to community solar as well.Tweet