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US community solar to grow 7GW by 2027 – Wood Mackenzie

Wood Mackenzie increased its forecast for 2022-2026 by 477MW, due in part to new policy-enabled community solar markets
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This article was originally published by Power Engineering International

Community solar capacity in the U.S. is expected to continue its growth, increasing by 7GWdc by 2027, according to an analysis from analytics firm Wood Mackenzie.

Wood Mac increased its forecast for 2022-2026 by 477MW, due in part because of new policy-enabled community solar markets, such as New Mexico and Delaware. The U.S. currently has 4.4GWdc of installed solar capacity.

The community solar forecast could increase by another 1.2GWdc, Wood Mac said, if pending legislation is approved in five states.

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Denver-based TurningPoint Energy cited Delaware’s Senate Bill 2, passed in 2021, in announcing August 2 its entry into the state’s community solar market. It said it had 12 projects worth a combined $100 million under development there. The 2021 bill expanded system sizes to allow up to 4MW, and required that at least 15% of a projects’ customers be of low income.

Wood Mackenzie and the Coalition for Community Solar Access collected data on customer acquisition costs for the US community solar market and found that costs to acquire large customers are lower, but more variable, on a per watt basis than acquisition costs for residential customers.

Courtesy: Wood Mackenzie

Illinois and New York account for the greatest state-level changes to the forecast. New York is projected to continue to be the leading community solar market, with 1.3 GWdc coming online between 2022-2027.

Report findings also highlighted that community solar-plus-storage can provide grid flexibility, but regulatory models do not currently recognize how these projects can manage load.

“As community solar becomes an increasing share of non-residential projects, developers are contending with high grid upgrade costs to manage this new load on the distribution end of the grid. Community solar-plus-storage could help manage this load and provide grid flexibility, but so far, its scope is limited to a few states, and current rules do not necessarily value storage for its grid resilience capabilities,”  said Rachel Goldstein, US solar research analyst for Wood Mackenzie.

Massachusetts now requires SMART-qualifying facilities larger than 500 kilowatts (kW) to be co-located with storage, while New York’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) provides financial incentives for co-locating community solar with storage. 

New regulatory proposals in California could help the state contend with new net metering rules while providing financial advantages for community solar-plus-storage projects.

At present, community solar is taking root in a third of states. The Biden Administration wants community solar to reach 5 million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings.

Originally published by John Engel on renewableenergyworld.com

The post US community solar to grow 7GW by 2027 – Wood Mackenzie appeared first on Power Engineering International.

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