Community solar (also known as shared solar) is the largest renewable energy growth market in the United States. Community solar models provide energy credits for multiple off-takers instead of the traditional singular energy user. Over 75% of solar energy consumers are unable to participate in the usage of rooftop solar energy because they are renters and do not own their roofs, because their property is unsuitable for solar due to shading, or because they are a business that leases their facility. Over the next three years, community solar in the U.S. is poised to see its market size increase tenfold, and by 2020 energy analysts expect the U.S. community solar to be a half-gigawatt annual market.
While individual state policy, regulatory, and legislative changes drive rapid growth in community solar transforming the energy industry; the tools to properly facilitate and develop projects under the different community solar models have not been developed.
One of the primary difficulties in encouraging significant investment in community solar projects across jurisdictions is the different system of approval and implementation in the different state jurisdictions. Different rules and requirements regarding predevelopment of project due diligence, numbers of pre-subscriptions, location of solar project to subscribers, the amount of mandatory outreach to underserved communities, regulatory reporting are just a few of the obstacles and difficulties that will need to be overcome in every state and utility jurisdiction as community solar continues to expand.
Currently, organizations that want to provide community solar in different states must research separate regulatory guidance for each separate state and utility jurisdiction and utilize different methods of customer acquisition, planning and development for each area.
The solution would be to create a marketplace platform that connects energy consumers, solar developers and Investor Owned Utilities. By allowing community solar developers access to a subscriber consumer database, along with developer project management tools to manage customer billing and administrative support, the process for developing community solar projects can be more easily facilitated in virtual net metering jurisdictions.