Is Community Solar a Good Idea?
The benefits of community solar are widely known, but what about the costs? The environmental impact? Are there other options? Here are some of the drawbacks. Read on to learn more. This article outlines the pros and cons of community solar. Before you sign up, consider these questions and be prepared for a sales pitch. It’s a good idea to research the pros and cons of community solar before you decide.
The cost of installing a community solar energy project or household solar energy system will vary depending on the system installed. These projects are usually one to five megawatts, with the future limit being a single megawatt. A one-megawatt solar power system is sufficient to power about 230 average-sized Minnesota homes. According to RMI, the cost of a community solar energy project could be as low as $0.50 per watt installed. However, installing a community solar energy project would require significant investment, and it will likely take time to achieve this. This will drive total installed community solar projects in the range of US$1.50-$2.00 per watt.
The costs of a community solar program should be accounted for properly, ensuring that the utility receives bill credits for each kWh generated. Bill credits should reflect the total value of a kWh at the time of generation, including avoided utility costs, avoided health and environmental impacts, and avoidance of fuel costs and risky fuel supplies. It’s not unusual to see an incremental cost of two to five cents per kWh for renewable energy.
Community solar is a way to help communities in need of energy. By using solar electricity, community solar projects can offset five metric tons of CO2 emissions each year, the equivalent of not burning 5,335 pounds of coal. Unlike rooftop solar, community solar projects like community solar farms do not disrupt natural ecosystems or alter soil content. Community solar has a positive impact on ecosystems and the environment and is a great way to benefit communities while reducing your electricity bill.
A common misconception about community solar is that the project will negatively affect the environment. In reality, community solar reduces carbon emissions from fossil fuels, lowering your carbon footprint. It also reduces air pollutants contributing to heart disease, cancer, and asthma. Climate change is a severe problem that affects everyone, including low-income people. Therefore, community solar projects should be built in communities with low socioeconomic conditions to combat climate change.
One way to reduce community solar costs is by utilizing third-party financing. A utility or third-party organization pre-sells solar panels to its customers in this model. The cost of the panels pays for the necessary building, equipment, and operations. The sponsor of community solar projects also provides financing. The project development takes place on land owned by the host. The sponsor collects a monthly lease payment from the host, maintains the project, and distributes virtual net metering credits to the subscribers.
One example of this is GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit group awarded $2.38 million to build a 989 kW solar array. This community solar system is located at the Port of Richmond and will help demonstrate the benefits of solar in decarbonizing California’s ports. It will benefit 155 low-income households in Richmond designated as disadvantaged communities. It is estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of the subscribers will be residents of low-income housing properties near the Port of Richmond. Those residents are expected to enjoy financial benefits equal to 75% of their typical renter electricity costs.
A community solar project is a great way to reduce your electricity bills and improve the environment at the same time. The disadvantage is that community solar isn’t as effective as rooftop solar panels because they have to be set up in a central location and aren’t customized for individual homes. In addition, depending on your preferences, the costs of community solar projects may outweigh the electricity bill savings. Considering these factors, community solar is an excellent option for those concerned about up-front fees.
One of the most significant advantages of community solar is that it does not require clearing new land. It can be constructed on previously cleared land or brownfields. Many community solar farms are dual-purpose and allow livestock to graze around them. The panels are also aesthetically pleasing, and the shade provided by the panels is beneficial for both livestock and the environment. Community solar has a few disadvantages, but the benefits easily outweigh these disadvantages. For those interested in community solar, look for companies that maintain sustainable land practices.