The Department of Energy (DOE) recently set a new target for its National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) program.
The program’s new goal is to have community solar systems that can power the equivalent of five million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings on the way to reaching the White House’s goals of achieving 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and ensuring that all Americans can benefit from renewable energy.
The new target represents more than a 700 percent increase in community solar installations, DOE said.
Achieving the $1 billion cost savings target would mean that, on average, community solar projects would provide a 20 percent savings on electric bills.
The DOE noted that the Sharing the Sun report, released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in collaboration with NCSP, showed that community solar can lead to savings of electric bills ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent.
Even though there are enough solar panels installed to power 19 million households, the DOE noted that many Americans still lack access to affordable solar electricity, including renters, homeowners who lack affordable financing options, and those without suitable roof conditions.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, nearly 50 percent of households and businesses are not able to host rooftop solar systems.
Community solar projects are supported by membership subscriptions. Subscribers receive a portion of the revenue from the energy produced, typically as savings on their monthly electric bill.
The NCSP program is led by the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office in collaboration with the NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The partnership includes a coalition of community solar stakeholders, such as state, local and tribal governments, solar developers, and community-based organizations. As of September 2021, NCSP had over 650 members from over 440 partner organizations.
When the American Public Power Association joined the National Community Solar Partnership last fall, the program’s goal was to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025.
To achieve its new targets, the DOE is offering free, on-demand technical assistance to NCSP partnership members. NCSP has distributed $1 million for technical assistance and said it aims to provide $2 million in the next year.