Are Community Solar Gardens The Next Big Thing In Powering Our Future?
The world is trying to dig deep into the science of renewable energy today. With all our existing energy resources burning away faster than we can control, our only option is to turn to alternative sources of energy.
Homeowners are now increasingly opting for sources such as solar energy for the generation of electricity in the most feasible way possible. However, this can prove to be a challenge for those who do not have a rooftop to set up solar energy panels.
Without solar panels, it is impossible to harness solar energy, and with buildings on the rise everywhere, we need to find a solution as to how solar energy can be made available to people who live in apartments and houses with shaded rooftops.
This is where community solar gardens come into play.
What are community solar gardens?
A community solar garden, as the name suggests involves solar power systems that are owned by a community as a whole. The solar panels are built with the help of capital from investors and the residents in a particular area. Residents can subscribe to a community solar garden and the power output from the solar systems will be distributed among residents and investors based on the investments. Of course, adjustments have to be made to account for changes in capacity, cost, and fluctuations in electricity rates.
How is the solar energy for each subscriber calculated?
When it comes to the residents in a specific area, the distribution of solar energy depends largely upon the amount of electricity used by each household.
For corporates and other investors, the distributed energy depends on the capital invested by them. The higher the capital, the more significant is the distribution.
What are the benefits of a community solar garden?
Community solar gardens offer two-fold advantages to the subscribers. Dependence on solar energy means that you can save on your electricity bills while enjoying the environmental benefits of solar energy.
Savings on your electricity bill depends on factors like location, amount of electricity you use, and so on.
How are community solar gardens faring so far?
Community solar gardens are being welcomed with open arms. In the United States, 10 states including Washington DC. have introduced policies supporting the development of solar gardens.
Colorado is the first American state to advocate community solar gardens and has more than 19 solar gardens functioning as of now. The Colorado state government has launched policies that make it easy to reap benefits from these solar gardens.
Not far behind are the states of California and Massachusetts. These states have even introduced a virtual net metering policy which measures the solar energy installed and distributed and is used in buildings that have multiple tenants.
The number of projects at present is quite small, but it is growing rapidly. Anyone living in a community that owns a solar garden can opt to become participants of the project.