At the end of 2014, there were 24 US states with at least one community solar project online, with 66 MW cumulative installed capacity. At least 12 states and Washington DC have recognised the benefits of shared or community renewables and have put policies and programmes into place to stimulate their growth. Many more are already considering programmes to expand consumer access to clean energy.
Colorado became the first in the nation to pass state-wide shared renewables legislation in 2010. Five years later, with the Community Solar Gardens Act, it is delivering on its promise of increasing participation in the state’s growing clean energy economy. Colorado has expanded the programme further with HB 15-1284 and today there are about 30 shared solar energy projects built or underway across the state. In fact, Colorado, along with other three states, California, Massachusetts and Minnesota, are expected to install the majority of community solar projects over the next two years.
All this is backed-up by the recent announcement made by the Obama Administration to stimulate a new country-wide initiative to increase access to solar energy to all US residents. These individuals include tenants, those living in low- or moderate-income communities and as such lack the start-up capital to invest in solar or do not have adequate information on how to transition to solar energy. Furthermore this initiative will lead to an expansion in the opportunities to access jobs in the solar energy industry.
In fact, a new study from GTM Research, US Community Solar Market Outlook 2015-2020, has identified community solar installations as the next largest solar growth market in the United States. Over the next two years, community solar in the US is poised to see its market size increase sevenfold and by 2020 GTM Research expects the US community solar market to achieve 0.5 GW annual.