Community solar projects (called “solar gardens” under a new Colorado law) are blooming like wildflowers in spring, reports the Solar Gardens Institute. The 2010 state law, discussed in the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community Solar Power report, creates a new legal structure for community solar projects and requires utilities to buy 6 megawatts (MW) of energy from community solar projects by the end of 2013.
The beauty of solar gardens is that they allow people without sunny roofs (e.g. renters, shade-dwellers) to go solar by subscribing as part of a group of people to a local, distributed solar project. Since most estimates of rooftop solar capacity indicate that only 20 to 25 percent of roofs are suitable for solar, community solar gardens can significantly expand the constituency for solar.
The spread of projects and interest in solar gardens is impressive, and has expanded far beyond Colorado. In their recent news update, the Solar Gardens Institute published a map indicating where there is interest in solar gardens, either for hosting a solar project or interest in pursuing a solar gardens state law.
The growth of solar gardens means more potential, more capital, and more public support for solar. Check out the Solar Gardens Institute or our 2010 report on Community Solar Power for more information!
John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His latest paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development. Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World. John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.