U.S. Department of Energy Aims to Increase Community Solar Installations by 700%
National Community Solar Partnership seeks to power five million households by 2025
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) target to enable community solar systems to power the equivalent of five million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings.
Community solar is a form of energy generation where members subscribe to a portion of a solar array, usually located near their community. As the solar array produces energy, subscribers receive a portion of the revenue from the energy produced, typically as savings on their monthly electric bill. This will benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities whose energy burden is three times higher than high-income households.
According to DOE, there is enough community solar installed in the U.S. today to power 600,000 households. However, many Americans still lack access to affordable solar electricity despite this unprecedented deployment. 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 by more than 700% by 2025.
“Community solar is one of the most powerful tools we have to provide affordable solar energy to all American households, regardless of whether they own a home or have a roof suitable for solar panels,” said United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
The NCSP is a DOE initiative led by the Solar Energy Technologies Office, collaborating with the NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The partnership includes a coalition of community solar stakeholders, such as state, local and tribal governments, solar developers, and community-based organizations. Partners leverage peer networks and technical assistance funding and resources to expand community solar access, focusing on those in underserved communities. As of September 2021, NCSP had over 650 members from over 440 partner organizations.
Recently, DOE announced that it had achieved its summer goal of signing up at least 125 communities for the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) tool.
According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2020 Year-in-Review report, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, the U.S. solar industry grew 43%. The U.S. installed a record 19.2 GW of capacity in 2020.