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US DoE and Clean Energy Collective Launch Community Solar Hub
by Staff Writers
Louisville CO (SPX) Jul 05, 2015

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The world's leading community solar provider Clean Energy Collective (CEC) has announced the launch of the "Community Solar Hub" (CSH), a web-based resource center devoted to roofless community solar deployment, With open access to market-proven insight and resources, developing a community solar program just became a lot easier.

Jointly created by CEC and the U.S. Department of Energy, through its SunShot Initiative, the Community Solar Hub brings together the key information and resources essential for a successful community solar program, vastly simplifying the development process for all enterprises, lowering overall project costs, and increasing the value and availability for consumers.

A recent report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reaffirmed community-shared solar's potential to serve as the dominant solar energy model throughout the country. Developing these projects, however, can be a very complicated and capital-intensive process, and to date has been successfully achieved at scale by only a few organizations.

To address these challenges, the Energy Dept. partnered with CEC to make available the development standards, financial and legal protocols, and other resources to simplify and streamline community solar development, giving more community groups, municipal organizations, utilities, and other organizations the opportunity to start their own programs.

"Solar professionals, utilities, solar advocates, and other stakeholders will find the Community Solar Hub an invaluable tool when navigating the complexities of tax laws, securities issues, reporting and billing, construction services, and equipment sourcing," said CEC's founder and CEO Paul Spencer.

The SunShot Initiative seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Community-shared solar projects, or roofless solar, generally from 500 kW to 5 MW in size with 1 MW being a typical size, leverages economies of scale to make locally generated renewable energy affordable and accessible to exponentially more homes and businesses.

Although a relatively young market, the number of shared solar programs has grown from two in 2010 to more than 50 today, spanning 19 states and dozens of cooperative, municipal, and investor-owned utilities, with a collective capacity exceeding 170 MW. By 2020, shared solar could account for up to 50% of the U.S. distributed PV market, representing $8.2-$16.3 billion of cumulative investment, according to NREL.

CEC and the Department of Energy crafted the Community Solar Hub to serve as a central library of information and materials specific to how community solar works, how proponents can make it happen in their communities, and how consumers can make the most informed decisions.

"Standardizing the core processes in shared solar development will create greater efficiency and consistency for all types of project developers and create confidence for all types of consumers, helping shared solar achieve its full potential," said Ken Johnson, vice president of communications at Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Scott Thomasson, new markets program director for Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy organization, added, "Communities nationwide are discovering that shared solar offers a way to connect more customers with the clean energy they want. With this new online resource, stakeholders now have a free roadmap for shared solar success so they don't need to navigate this innovative approach on their own."

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Los Angeles (AFP) July 1, 2015
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