The US community solar energy project market could be worth up to $2.5 billion in revenue by the year 2020, according to a new report from Navigant Research.
The new report notes, though, that the achievement of such a figure would require changes as far as common utility company business strategies go.
To provide some background here for those unfamiliar with the term — “community solar” refers to solar photovoltaic (PV) installations that allow those without sufficient rooftop space of their own for a solar PV system to still source their electricity from solar. A growing number of organizations and utility companies are beginning to offer such services.
Going by the figures provided by the report there was roughly 88.6 megawatts (MW) of community solar capacity installed in the US at the end of 2015.
The primary drivers for the expected growth identified in the new Navigant Research report are continually falling solar PV and installation costs, the relatively easy nature of project development, and the growing use of virtual net-metering. This all combines with a rapidly growing interest in “going solar” among many population sectors.
As the community solar market was valued at around $175 million in revenue in 2015, the increase to $2.5 billion by 2020 would be a rapid one — and would correspond to a community solar project capacity total of around 1.5 gigawatts (GW). The report notes that development costs have been falling by roughly 12% a year for the last 5 years straight — making the predicted surge in development seem reasonable enough.
Interestingly, the report makes the observation that if the traditional utility companies are wanting to get a foothold into the residential and commercial rooftop solar markets that community solar is probably the only reasonable way.
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