There are currently 4.9 gigawatts (GW) of community solar installed in the US through the second quarter of 2022, and at least 7 gigawatts of community solar are expected to come online in the US in the next five years, according to new research released by Wood Mackenzie in collaboration with the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA).
When households or businesses don’t have access to rooftop solar, they can subscribe to shared local solar facilities and receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. As the Solar Energy Industries Association explained:
Community solar allows for equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of an individual’s home or business. In other words, if you can’t install solar directly on your property, community solar can be a good option for accessing the savings and other benefits solar provides.
Forty-one states plus Washington, DC, currently have at least one community solar project online. The Biden Administration wants community solar to reach 5 million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings.
The SEIA, as of June 7, forecasts the addition of more than 4.3 GW of total US community solar capacity, but Wood Mackenzie has increased its 2022-2026 forecast by 477 MW, an 11% uptick compared to previous forecasts, and extended its outlook to 2027.
Wood Mackenzie’s increase is due to the addition of new community solar markets such as New Mexico and Delaware, and adjustments to existing state forecasts as state-level programs are expanded and rules are updated.
Illinois and New York are responsible for the largest changes to the forecast at the state level. New York, with 1.3 GW forecast to come online between now and 2027, is projected to continue to lead the US among states when it comes to community solar.
Jeff Cramer, CEO of CCSA, said:
There continue to be significant tailwinds for the community solar industry as legislators in existing and new states look to community solar as a way to achieve energy policy goals.
The numbers released by Wood Mackenzie represent a conservative forecast of what’s in the pipeline for the next few years.
If The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 becomes law, it would reinstate the solar investment tax credit to 30%, so community solar forecasts would likely be revised to reflect growth.
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Author: Michelle Lewis