Full Title: Community Solar+: How the Next Generation of Community Solar Can Unlock New Value Streams and Help Communities Pursue Holistic Decarbonization
Author(s): Stephen Abbott, Amanda Farthing, Matthew Popkin, Madeline Tyson
Publisher(s): Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
Publication Date: April 18, 2022
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The first generation of community solar — typically midsize, grid-connected solar projects that community members or organizations can subscribe to — enabled greater access to solar energy in many US states. However, community solar has the potential to do far more for communities.
As local governments increasingly advance local decarbonization and climate resilience, they are often confronted by the many competing priorities for their limited financial resources. While every renewable energy project provides added values — from construction jobs to increased public awareness and education about renewables — carefully and purposefully designed community solar projects are uniquely well-suited to unlock even more value streams.
This report outlines the concept of community solar+: community solar projects that are strategically deployed to maximize local value streams and advance community-wide sustainability and equity goals. With deliberate planning, key stakeholders can design and deploy community solar projects that provide additional benefits to the communities they serve.