Thinking about installing solar panels on your home, but don’t have proper sunlight exposure? Perhaps you want to share the costs with like-minded neighbors? With a new renewable energy model, community solar gardens may be the answer.
In Colorado, a new law allows the creation of “solar gardens,” which are photovolatic (PV) solar projects no larger than 2-megawatt (MW) with 10 or more subscribers within the same county. Businesses, nonprofits and even utilities can create community solar gardens. Operations must be handled by an organization solely in charge of the solar garden and its subscribers, somewhat like a special tax district.
The idea is a blend of distributed generation (solar energy produced and utilized onsite) and utility scale solar power. It allows property owners to efficiently use blocks of land to generate amounts of renewable energy that would be too great for one person, but enough to serve a small community. In other words, community solar gardens are the happy medium between localized solar power and energy that is fed over the grid from solar power plants.
Colorado was the first state to pass a law allowing creation of community solar gardens (CSGs). Under its provisions, Colorado utilities must purchase at least 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity from operational community solar gardens. According to Renewable Energy World, a recent release of the draft rules for CSGs “May open the floodgates, turning distributed solar power into democratic solar power.”
If you’d like to learn more about community solar gardens, the Solar Gardens Institute, in partnership with the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, will hold a SOLAR GARDEN SYMPOSIUM on May 6, 2011. Installers and industry professionals are encouraged to attend tolearn more about off-site solar.