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Published on July 29th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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Community Solar Garden #SolarChat Summary

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July 29th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan 

This article was originally published on Solar Love.

I recently participated in one of the Twitter #SolarChat events that @EcoOutfitters organizes. It was a real blast — fun and informative. The general focus was community solar gardens, but that was of course linked to many other solar issues. Numerous useful resources about community solar gardens and solar financing were shared. Below are some of the key comments and resources I gathered from the hour-long solar chat (I actually spent about 2 hours scrolling through all the tweets and replying where I could be of special use.)

Community Solar

To start with, several people intimately involved with the community solar model shared some useful resources:

Details on various ownership and financing models were also shared:

Naturally, you can’t bring up financing models these days without bringing up crowdfunding. Some participants asked if Kickstarter had even been used for crowdfunding community solar. Since I’ve covered some such crowdfunding projects, I chimed in:

For a more specific look at the differences between Colorado’s and Minnesota’s community solar policies, MN Renewable Energy shared this report:

Notably, when it comes to crowdfunding solar power, the Rocky Mountain Institute pointed out the important fact that there’s safety in numbers.

One key benefit of community solar to which I hadn’t really given much thought was that this model often makes going solar very easy. Frankly, I thought going solar was pretty easy anyway, but I guess that extra bit of ease really can make a difference for many people.

Related to that, making community solar options as simple as possible was focused on by some people as an important best practice.

This also seems to be something that UK renewable energy utility Ecotricity has discovered.

Another point that I found particularly noteworthy was that schools and nonprofits bring positive associations to solar — as such, a great goal is to get more of these community leaders to go solar.

Of course, solar brings many benefits to consumers, and community solar especially so. We need to make this more well known. Obviously, I think that’s important — that’s what I’m in the business of doing!

SolarRosana was also great to point out that Vote Solar is a great resource that can help us to support community solar and get it going in our communities.

SolarRosana and The Community Power Report also shared resources focused on sharing community solar examples from around the world.

Of course, one of the biggest keys to advancing community solar is simply getting more community solar legislation put into place.


Other Solar Topics

Of course, several other solar topics also came up that are worth highlighting.

The point was made by a few people that we need to educate people about the many advantages of solar and the low price of solar today.

Ed Reid noted that we need to be sure to us jargon-free language when doing so.

Others noted that we needed more solar advertising, with which I wholeheartedly agree, as I’ve written before.

Another point I made here is that we need to help people understand that the cost of solar has changed dramatically (dropped off a cliff) within a very short timeframe.

EV–Solar Symbiosis

I don’t recall how it came up, but I also pointed out the huge symbiosis between electric vehicles and solar power. Clearly, a lot of people have caught on to this, but we need even more people to understand the strong positives of going solar and “going electric” at the same time.

Renewables Symbiosis

Aside from the EV–solar symbiosis, the important symbiosis between wind and solar power was also noted.

Efficiency 2nd

An interesting question was posed regarding which should be pursued first — greater consumer efficiency or solar power. A very interesting point was made. It’s hard to get people to think about energy efficiency, but if you get them to go solar, they start to delve into this topic on their own — they start to pay close attention to their energy use.

Efficiency improvements and solar make a natural combo, but it seems the best way to get people to get excited about efficiency is to get them to go solar.

Utilities

How could a solar discussion come up without utilities coming up? It’s impossible these days.

Kendra Hubbard was keen to note that community solar undercuts the popular utility “unfairness” argument.

SolarRosana was also keen to note that the tremendous benefits of distributed generation need to be taken into account and valued.

Depressing US Southeast

One notable statistic I wanted to save was regarding the US Southeast (which includes my home state of Florida):

Thanks for that, Beth… I guess.

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



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