Community shared solar power

Smart cities are always looking for ways to become cleaner, more efficient and more secure. One way may be to transition to local renewable energy resources but unfortunately, the density and location of most cities do not lend them to most forms of renewable energy.

An exception is solar energy although many cities do not have the space available to host utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects. How can smart cities take advantage of solar energy? The answer is community shared solar.

Community solar as defined here is a solar photovoltaic project that delivers energy and/or economic benefit to multiple customers. These customers subscribe to the solar project by purchasing a share of its energy output. This allows subscribers to benefit from a central commercial-scale solar plant through virtual net energy metering, an arrangement through which multiple customers are credited for a share of energy generated by a renewable energy facility that is not physically connected to their property.

While community solar is gaining traction throughout the country, there are a number of barriers that need to be assessed and addressed before developing a new community solar program. These include:

  • Project economics:
  • Customer acquisition:
  • Financing challenges:
  • IT/OT system barriers:
  • Policy barriers:

Although potential barriers should be assessed, the benefits of community solar could be great in accomplishing multiple goals of a smart city.

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