Did you know that according to CNBC, roughly only 40% of America’s power grid uses clean energy, while the remaining 60% relies on fossil fuels, causing climate change and pollution? One effective way to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels is solar panel installation on your residential property, but it is not always possible. Reasons include not owning a home, lacking sunny space, or upfront expenses. Yet, there’s a solution: community solar. This means sharing a solar setup with others so you all enjoy eco-friendly and cost-efficient energy, even if your roof isn’t involved.
The concept of community solar offers a promising alternative that enables individuals to benefit from solar energy. In this blog, we’ll explore how does community solar work and what it involves to offer clean and affordable energy to a variety of people.
Community Solar Explained
Community solar refers to a shared renewable energy initiative that collectively allows multiple individuals, commercial spaces, or organizations to benefit from a solar power installation. Community solar, also called solar farms or gardens, lets many people enjoy the advantages of a single solar energy system. This setup provides energy for hundreds and thousands of homes in the neighborhood. It’s for those who can’t install panels due to space, cost, or property type. By joining community solar, individuals can access clean energy, gain bill credits, and create awareness about a sustainable and clean environment.
This kind of setup is technically called a photovoltaic power station. Community solar projects are also commonly referred to as solar power plants, solar farms, gardens, solar parks, roofless solar, and shared solar. All these terms mean the same thing: a large collection of solar panels producing power for a specific region.
How Does Community Solar Work?
In community solar projects, the electricity is generated from the sunlight and is passed through an electric meter to the utility grid. People or homeowners who join the community solar project pay a monthly fee for a part of this power generated.
The local electricity company compensates the community solar provider for the produced energy. Subscribers get a credit from their subscription, usually applied to their monthly electricity bill. This helps lower their overall electricity expenses.
There are 3 simple steps in which a community solar setup functions:
- A local community solar project is created to help a group of people/homeowners who desire clean energy. The power produced by the solar farm goes to the grid, and you receive renewable energy credits for this power.
- Your energy credits lower your monthly utility bill, the one you receive from your usual electricity provider.
- The solar developer will send you a separate bill for your renewable energy credits, which is usually less and leads to cost savings.
Benefits of Solar Community
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory states that almost half households and businesses can’t have rooftop solar. This might be because they rent homes, their roofs aren’t suitable due to shading or size, or upfront costs are an issue. Community solar makes solar energy benefits accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to set up panels on their roofs.
This means lower electricity costs for households and businesses, especially in places where solar is cheaper than fossil fuels.
Financial Benefit Through VNM
Community solar setup uses a policy known as “virtual net metering” (VNM). Like net metering for home solar, virtual net metering lets households, businesses, or nonprofits receive credits from a distant renewable energy project. Just as net metering lets your rooftop solar cut grid electricity when the sun’s not shining, virtual net metering lets you balance grid power use with solar energy from a distant place—hence “virtual.”
Free to Join
Joining community solar is cost-free and doesn’t require any initial expenses. It lets you enjoy the perks of clean solar energy without the upfront investment and the inconvenience of panel installation. Even if you move within the same region, you can bring your community solar subscription. You won’t need to leave your solar panels behind or install a new set in your home, which is a big advantage.
Fights Global Warming
Community solar plays a big part in making our environment cleaner. It swaps fossil fuels for solar energy, which is great for the environment. This change helps with less carbon emissions, cleaner air, and fewer air pollutants. As per EPA, a standard 5MW solar project prevents emitting CO2, equivalent to burning 5 million pounds of coal. That’s like removing over 950 cars from the road annually!
Adjustable Solar Power
If you put solar panels in your home or business, they produce a set amount of power. But you can change how much power you want in a community solar farm without adding more panels. It’s flexible, and you don’t need to keep installing new panels. You will receive the power as per the
No Roof Damage
Solar panels can damage your roof. They might cause leaks where they are installed, especially if shingles on the roof get damaged. The panels themselves could also get harmed, resulting in repairs and costs. But if you’re in a solar farm, you don’t need to worry about any roof damage caused due to solar panel installation.
Overall, the community solar review is positive but, It is important to know that the community solar financing incentive of income tax credit (ITC) is unavailable in this setup.
Now we know how community solar works and the solar benefits it brings to all in a community: renters, owners, businesses, schools, and anyone with an electricity bill. Overall, in a community solar setup, all residents collectively use energy from a big solar setup called a solar farm. Enrolling in this program gives you solar credits that cut down your electricity expenses. Apart from cutting electricity costs, it is good for the environment and makes the grid stronger. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
If you are looking for solar panel installation from a reliable company, feel free to get in touch with us at Infinity Energy as we aim to enable communities to flourish in an environmentally aware world.