The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a new National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) goal to enable community solar systems to power the equivalent of five million homes by 2025 and generate 1 billion dollars in savings on the energy bill.
Community solar is a form of power generation where members subscribe to part of a solar panel, usually located near their community. Since the solar panel produces energy, subscribers receive a portion of the revenue from the energy produced, usually in the form of savings on their monthly electric bill. This will benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities whose energy burden is three times that of high-income households.
According to the DOE, there is enough community solar power installed in the United States today to power 600,000 homes. However, many Americans still do not have access to affordable solar electricity despite this unprecedented rollout. This could be attributed to a lack of affordable financing options and unsuitable roof conditions.
Achieving DOE’s new NSCP target would increase community solar power by over 700% by 2025.
The Solar Futures study recently published by the DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows how solar energy can play an important role in a low-carbon grid.
“Community solar power is one of the most powerful tools we have for providing affordable solar power to all American households, whether they own a house or a roof that is suitable for solar panels,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
The NCSP is a DOE initiative led by the Solar Energy Technologies Office, in collaboration with NREL and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The partnership includes a coalition of community solar energy actors, such as state, local and tribal governments, solar developers and community organizations. Partners are leveraging peer networks and funding and technical assistance resources to expand community solar access, focusing on people in underserved communities. As of September 2021, the NCSP had over 650 members from over 440 partner organizations.
Recently, the DOE announced that it had reached its summer goal of enrolling at least 125 communities in the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP +) tool.
According to Solar Market Insight’s 2020 Annual Review Report, published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, the U.S. solar industry has grown by 43%. The United States installed a record capacity of 19.2 GW in 2020.
Arjun Joshi is a journalist at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked as a technical writer for enterprise resource software companies based in India and overseas. He holds a BA in Journalism, Psychology and Optional English from Garden City University, Bangalore. More articles from Arjun Joshi.