In what ways do community solar plants empower solar for all?

Everyone knows about the benefits of solar power. It is a long-lasting energy source that is renewable and cuts considerable costs too. However, having a home-based setup of solar energy is not feasible for everyone. Yet the benefits of solar energy aren’t limited to a few.

There is something known as a community solar plant. Community solar plants and systems also help those who are unable to install solar panels on their properties get the maximum benefits solar energy has to offer. These benefits do not involve upfront installation and additional expenses.

Recent reports indicate that community solar plants are growing in popularity. The market for community solar plants and systems is slated to grow by 118% over the next five years. Almost six gigawatts of additional capacity in community solar plants are expected to come online between this year and 2027.

Moreover, power companies and their subsidiaries are targeting 30 gigawatts by 2030 through establishing more community solar plants and markets. Though not available everywhere, they can somehow benefit places like California, Colorado, Washington, and Utah.

Understanding the concept of a community solar plant

Community solar is a good way of helping residents access affordable and clean energy. This of course does not involve the need of having to install solar panels in homes or spending large on setups. 

A large-scale solar array (solar farm/solar garden) is a private development somewhere in the suburb. This array is able to produce a lot of solar energy and feed the local grid. This helps reduce the community’s/area’s reliance on fossil fuel power plants and this leads to a cleaner local environment.

Can customers with existing utility connections go for this option?

Utility customers are eligible to subscribe to this kind of solar project. They can receive a good discount on their electric bills. Each program is unique. But on average, community solar subscribers save between 5 and 15 percent annually on their utility bills. This too comes with the fact that subscribers do not have to buy, install or maintain a home-based solar panel system.

Apart from eliminating capital expenditures, community solar plants have numerous advantages. For those living in a rented home and unable to support their array of solar panels, these plants are advantageous and provide affordable electric bills. Homeowners who have shaded rooftops or live in buildings of historic significance are no longer excluded from such a marketplace.

Community solar plants are money savers

Electricity bills are rising annually. Though in developed countries they are not as expensive as in developing countries. Community solar plants help homeowners and renters save money on electricity bills without forcing them to adjust their consumption or invest in new energy-efficient systems.

They work in the way that each month, subscribers will receive a bill directly from the community solar provider in addition to the normal electricity bill. But subscribers get a 10% discount on their bill. How? The energy they consume from the community solar farm is affordable as it also feeds the grid. The surplus electricity per household is hence credited in the form of money.

For instance, if the utility bill is $120 and the solar share of the house in the community plant produces $100 of electricity, they will get a credit worth $100 on the utility bill. This means the real bill is $20. When residents have received the complete $100 credit on their utility bill, they are only paying the community solar plant $90.

Community solar plants can help benefit the environment

Each unit of solar energy produced has a lower carbon footprint in comparison to each unit of electricity generated by fossil fuels. Going for community solar plants helps support the development of renewable energy sources having minimal and even negligible CO2 emissions. This does help contribute to a cleaner environment.

Community solar plants are better than rooftop solar plants. They do help in improving the local air quality but also help provide many others with clean and green solar energy.

A lot of pollutants coming from burning fossil fuels do impact health. The particulate matter and other residual matter also cause environmental issues. In some areas, they are considered regional air pollutants causing a wide array of issues with weather conditions. Community solar plants are much better. They are registered with local power authorities and provide citizens with clean energy options.

Do community solar plants have any issues with construction?

Community solar plants are built in areas that do not occupy any unnecessary space. They aren’t built in parks but in former light industrial and commercial areas where they won’t cause any environmental problems.

Project advisory professionals explain that in new suburban developments, spaces for solar farms are designated. Originally planned to work as backup power sources, these farms have been working to provide clean energy to local households at the best price. Some households use both solar and thermal power just to see which one is better.

When these plants are made, dispute avoidance is a key consideration factor. A lot of disputes arise if the plant is interfering with daily functions i.e. constructed on amenity land and the like. Making these solar farms in existing suburbs is almost impossible. But making them in new suburbs is easy.

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