Unlike other power sources, solar energy is flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of spaces, from tilted roofs of homes to fields in the middle of the desert.
This is the latest example of fiction. -
It's called "Solar Community Garden". It's a solar system belonging to the community. -
Ownership and sharing.
The ideal community solar garden is located in a town or city, serving a group of residents who either pay a dollar or subscribe to projects without equipment.
The electricity from solar panels enters the grid and is sold to local utility companies, which then transfer the electricity sold to the owners or users of solar gardens.
Credit cards then appear on each of their utility bills.
The goal is to allow renters, or those who cannot or cannot put solar energy on roofs, to still benefit from localized solar power generation, which is encouraged by the federal government and many state governments through tax rebates and tax incentives.
"We think it's a garden plot on a family solar farm," said Matt Cheney, CEO of Ceal Posiv Venture Capital, at a solar conference in San Francisco last week.
What are the obstacles?
Community solar gardens are uncommon because many states and public utilities do not have policies that allow such public ownership and credit. -
Share the solar system.
More commonly, net metering is where household or business owners can install solar energy on roofs and sell surplus electricity to their utilities at retail prices.
The sale is shown on credit on their utility bills.
Net metering rules usually link solar energy equipment to the accounts of specific utility customers, so credit is not shared.
California is working to expand net metering to tenants without solar panels for roof space.
Tenants of these residential or commercial complexes are called virtual net metering, and they can share credit from the electricity sales of a solar device.
Landlords can also share loans because they are also electricity contributors to the building. (
Their electricity bills illuminate the garage, corridor and other parts of the complex. .
But the installation of virtual network metrology must be in the premise.
Not every roof has room for solar panels.
Landlords may not see enough incentives to worry about building solar systems for their homes.
By contrast, community solar gardens can be located elsewhere and on the ground, rather than on the roof, allowing transfer of ownership or subscription.
It should also be cheaper to install because it may be larger than a typical residential roof system.
"You can sell it on Craigslist," Cheney said.
"You can give your friend a wedding gift of 250 pounds. -
Kilowatt solar capacity.
Cheney used his Intersolar speech to tout California Senate Bill SB843, which would make community solar gardens possible.
The bill has entered the state legislature and is awaiting its first hearing.
Peter Olmsted, a policy advocate for PaySolar, an advocacy group in San Francisco, said one of the discussions on the bill involved owners or subscribers to community solar development going from selling electricity to utilities.
At present, Olmsted said, the bill does not provide retail prices for electricity sales.
The idea is that if you don't pay for all the electricity you bring home, you don't have the right to be compensated.
"We're trying to put our arms around the actual effect of the plan and whether it will create an attractive plan for the wider community," Olmsted said.
Political leaders in California and other states tout the small-
Solar power generation is an important component of its plan to gradually replace coal or natural gas power generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Installation of small solar projects that can be installed in cities or suburbs makes it unnecessary to build expensive transmission lines to transport solar power from remote areas.
Some solar advocates also want more of these types of power projects, rather than solar farms requiring vast tracts of land, and often provoke opposition from environmental groups.
Although community solar gardens are a good idea, they may not be easy to implement.
There is also the issue of land availability --- real estate prices in big cities may be high, making solar energy projects economically impossible.
What is the minimum size of the solar system that residents must pay or subscribe for?
If the minimum is set too high, some people may not be able to afford it.
When people move out of town, can they have a place in the community solar garden?
Community solar gardens have sprung up in some parts of the country.
Two Colorado states have received some news coverage, including the 858 kilowatt system for 350 people.
The state passed a Community Solar Garden Act last year.
Colorado Congressman Mike Udall also proposed a bill that would give community Solar Garden owners the right to use a 30% investment tax credit.
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