The recent years have seen solar energy emerge as a popular option among the public, thanks to its umpteen benefits.
But simply wishing to go solar is one thing, actually getting one up and running in your property is an entirely different thing altogether.
Standing in your way are a few concerns, the prominent among them being the cost of installing solar panels.
Although solar technology is getting cheaper by the day, installing solar in your property still remains a significant investment, something that can burn hole in one’s pocket.
Does this mean, solar is just a rich man’s ally and that low-income households should count themselves out of participating in the solar revolution?
Not at all.
Because, there exist innovative options that allow participants of different geographic and economic backgrounds to enjoy the benefits of solar power – options like community solar!
Simply put, community solar or shared solar, as it is called, is an arrangement that allows multiple individuals and organizations to enjoy the benefits of a solar energy system.
Subscribing to a community solar program means participants don’t need to install and maintain a solar facility in their property. They can instead take advantage of the solar energy generated in a remote location and delivered to them via the power grid.
And much like the owner of a conventional solar PV system, subscribers of community solar programs will also get compensated in the form of credits for their share of electricity generated, which can then be used to offset the electricity they pull from the grid.
Community solar projects can be developed in a variety of ways, such as through utility-sponsored programs, third-party developers, or community-led initiatives.
Developing a community solar project usually involves the coming together of a group of individuals or organizations.
When it comes to community solar, the general perception is that such facilities are exclusively built on a large piece of land. This is understandable given the size of such projects, which are usually in megawatts.
But, contrary to this belief, community solar projects can also be assembled on a building that can accommodate a large number of solar panels.
Once the project is up and running, customers can purchase or lease a portion of the community solar project or they can straightaway buy electricity generated at the plant on a subscription-based plan.
Whichever the model, one thing is a given – the electricity generated from a community solar project will obviously be cheaper than the electricity from the grid.
Community solar has numerous benefits for individuals, communities, and the environment.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
A lot of factors keep people away from making the transition to solar.
The cost of installing solar panels is one; and even if the interested parties are able to afford it, they still need a suitable property and ideal climatic conditions to carry out onsite installations successfully.
With the advent of community solar though, such constraints have dissipated.
By leveraging the solar power generated elsewhere, many, who were previously handicapped by the cost or unfavourable geographic conditions to install solar panels, can now gain access to clean energy.
Generally, the power from solar comes cheap. This comes as a breath of fresh air for anyone, who shells out a fortune on electricity bills.
After all, who doesn’t want to lower electricity bills?
With community solar projects making solar much more accessible, many are able to leverage the low-cost electricity and offset their utility bills.
Reversing climate change ultimately boils down to how effectively we keep the co2 levels in the atmosphere in check.
One study notes that the power sector alone emitted a whopping 14.65 gigatons of CO2 in the year 2022 – the highest recorded among any other sector!
Since solar energy is one of the cleanest sources of energy available, arrangements such as community solar can help lower our overreliance on fossil fuels and contribute to our transition towards a more sustainable energy system.
The challenges encountered when installing solar panels are just the tip of the ice berg.
For your solar PV system to perform at its peak, it needs to be constantly maintained (a lot of factors like general wear and tear, dirt build-up, etc., can affect the efficiency of a solar system over the course of its lifetime).
By subscribing to a community solar program, you are essentially taking the responsibility of maintaining solar panels out of the equation.
Now, participants can get their hands on clean energy, all the while having your energy providers deal with the maintenance aspect.
One less burden to worry about!
Finally, community solar projects can help promote community development by bringing individuals and organizations together to develop a solar energy project.
It’s a chance for individuals and organizations that share an enthusiasm for clean energy to collaborate and work towards a better tomorrow.
Gone are the days when solar was accessible only to a very few.
With the emergence of innovative schemes like community solar, many have started reaping the benefits of solar energy.
As the world continues to face the challenges of climate change, community solar can play an important role in the transition to a more sustainable energy system!
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