Community solar emerged as one of the brightest spots in the U.S. solar market last year. But its prospects for the future look dim without some careful thought being put into program design.
A report released earlier this month by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) tracked approximately 387 megawatts of community solar last year, for a total installed capacity of 734 megawatts at the end of 2017. That corresponds to 112 percent year-over-year growth. For comparison, the broader U.S. solar market has grown at an annual average of 68 percent over the last decade.
Based on recent growth rates, it’s likely the U.S. community solar market has now surpassed the 1-gigawatt milestone.
SEPA expects to see continued growth in the short term. Further out, the future of community solar is unclear. “Whether this growth continues in the long term after state renewable portfolio standards are met and the standard utility supply has a greater share of renewable generation, or after the most environmentally conscientious customers have already subscribed, is undetermined,” the report states.