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How much untapped rooftop solar potential is there on multi-family housing in the US? A lot!


320 GW Of Non-Traditional, Untapped Rooftop Solar Potential In USA

How much untapped rooftop solar potential is there on multi-family housing in the US? A lot!

Below is a combination of two articles by Frank Andorka over on Solar WakeUp. Let’s go one at a time.

Originally published on SolarWakeUp.

What Happened: Long-time solar industry denizen Silvio Marcacci took to Forbes to argue that low- and middle-income Americans could represent a 320 GW untapped solar market in the United States.

  • Marcacci’s conclusions are based on a new report out of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – the first of its kind – that made the assertion.
  • Marcacci writes: “NREL’s research shows that most rooftop solar technical potential is highly concentrated in the states and urban areas with significant building stock and high levels of existing residential solar deployment: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.”

SolarWakeup’s View: First off, let me congratulate Silvio Marcacci on landing in the pages of Forbes. Silvio has always been a great champion for solar, and seeing his name (and our message) reaching some of the world’s wealthiest investors and businesspeople is a sight for sore eyes. So thank you, Silvio.

Silvio’s piece centers on a new report out from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that says, in essence, solar needs to get out from the neatly tree-lined, gated and wealthy communities it has traditionally served and into the low- to middle-income markets, where the customer acquisition may be more difficult – but at 320 GW, is clearly a hugely lucrative potential market.

The key, NREL says, is moving away from a single-family-home model of solar development and into a more collective model like community solar. Silvio points out that California has successfully implemented two programs (SASH and MASH) that could serve as models for the rest of the country (as California is wont to do, particularly within the solar space).

He adds:

“Solar developers can play a role tapping this market. NREL reports 60% of LMI residential potential exists on renter-occupied and multi-family buildings where long-term contracts may not work for residents – in other words, not single-family homes in affluent neighborhoods.

“This means community solar or shared solar projects could be installed on large buildings like government facilities, community centers, or churches and then opened up to LMI households through community solar, virtual net metering, or other shared subscription programs.”

I’m so glad someone is pointing this out in such august pages as Forbes – it’s a message investors, and the solar industry, both need to hear.

Originally published on SolarWakeUp.
By Frank Andorka

What Happened: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council has released a report outlining two potential paths to enable greater solar access for renters and multifamily residents, and low-to-moderate income communities.

  • The report, titled Expanding Solar Access: Pathways for Multifamily Housing, suggests shared solar, whether on-site or off-site, is the key.
  • Following on last week’s Forbes magazine article by Silvio Marcacci arguing that there could be 320 GW of untapped solar potential in just these types of applications, the report seems timely.

A new IREC report reveals new paths for renters and multifamily dwellings to add solar to their electricity production.

SolarWakeup’s View: Last week, I gave major props to solar support Silvio Marcacci’s article in Forbes magazine that discussed there might be 320 GW of untapped solar potential on non-traditional solar applications, including multifamily and other commercial properties. Then the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) published a report called Expanding Solar Access: Pathways for Multifamily Housing, which offers two pathways to reach Marcacci’s proposed goal.

I’m sensing a pattern.

Unsurprisingly, the key to adding solar to multifamily housing is shared solar or, as it is more commonly referred to within the industry, community solar.

“Shared solar programs can enable multiple customers, including renters in multifamily housing, to share the economic benefits of a single solar power system and to receive credits on their utility bills for the electricity generated by that common system,” explains IREC Regulatory Program Director Sara Baldwin Auck. “Given the large percentage of renters nationwide, policymakers need to ensure that policies and programs allow them to take advantage of the benefits of solar and other related clean energy technologies, such as energy storage and energy efficiency,” says Auck.

Also unsurprising is the fact that the Bullitt Foundation says low-income households are disproportionately affected by the rising cost of energy, paying up to four-times the proportion of income on energy costs relative to their higher-income peers. So to make solar the truly revolutionary electricity generation form everyone expects it to be, you have to find ways to give non-traditional solar users access.

The new IREC report points in the right direction. Take a look.

More: Expanding Solar Access: Pathways for Multifamily Housing

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