Factors to Consider Before Subscribing to Community Solar

So you’ve heard of community solar and are now thinking of subscribing to one. Naturally, you want to know if you are qualified for a solar farm subscription. In this article, we will discuss factors that you need to consider before you sign up for a community solar program.

What is Community Solar?

Community solar or shared solar is one of the biggest renewable energy trends to have emerged in the past decade. Compared to residential solar which is mostly individualistic, a community solar project allows several neighboring households to tap into a single solar farm installation.

Instead of installing panels on residential roofs or backyards, solar farm owners set them up at a central location like an open field or even an open body of water. Since it is subscription-based, you will simply receive a portion of the solar energy generated by these farms. Usually, this power will be coursed through your existing power lines, which means you don’t have to get any new gear just to enjoy your subscription. Sounds promising, right?

Am I Qualified for a Subscription?

Just like traditional solar panels, though, community solar programs are not for everyone. Here are some factors that make you a great candidate for community solar:

1. Your utility provider has a solar project

A lot of local energy providers own or manage their own solar farms. This way, you can buy in and ‘fund’ the community project in exchange for rebates in your monthly energy bill. Supporting these utility-sponsored projects will allow you to reduce your own electricity costs while helping your provider reach their goals in terms of building a more balanced energy portfolio.

Check with your utility provider if they have such a project. If they do, then chances are you are automatically qualified to subscribe to it.

2. You live near a solar farm

Utility providers are not the only entities that can own and manage solar farms. Private companies, non-profit organizations, and even local government units can run shared solar projects that you can easily subscribe to.

Sometimes, members of the actual community come together to pitch in the capital for the solar farm, making it purely community-owned and for the benefit of the general public.

In any case, it is required that you live close enough to a solar farm for a viable subscription.

3. You can’t put up solar panels at home

One of the most important considerations when choosing your solar-generating system of choice is feasibility. PV panels will require you to have ample space at home, not to mention the authority to make such installations on the roof (or even on the ground surrounding your house.)

More often than not, you will not be allowed to make modifications to a rented house, even if it’s for something as beneficial as a solar panel system. In this case, subscribing to a community solar program would be your best bet.

Even if you live in your own house, though, solar panels may not always be suitable. Not all roofs can accommodate those installations. If your area gets more shade than sunlight, sourcing your solar energy from a shared solar garden might still be the most cost-efficient solution.

4. You move a lot

Flexibility is a prime benefit of having a community solar subscription, as opposed to investing in your own solar system at home. If the nature of your job or lifestyle is that it requires you to move a lot, it just won’t be practical to invest in your own panels because of the sheer effort it would take you to uninstall, transport, and install them all over again with every move.

Going for a solar farm subscription will give you more flexibility when moving since it’s typically easy to suspend or cancel your subscription to one and just subscribe to a different project that’s nearer the place where you’re moving. It’s also a great way to maintain environmental sustainability with every move.

If any or all four of these factors are attendant in your case, then you already know that you possess the golden opportunity to try out a community solar program and see how it works out for you.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.
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