Top Trends, Forecasts, and Opportunities Shaping Commercial, Industrial, and Community Solar in 2024

As the commercial, industrial, and community solar sector gears up for success in 2024, we’ve compiled the top trends, forecasts, and opportunities shaping the landscape for project developers and Engineering, Construction, and Procurement (EPC) firms.


A Snapshot of C&I Solar Growth Forecasts

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) anticipates an average growth of 8% in the commercial solar sector over the next five years. The association noted that although growth in saturated states is slowing, emerging markets will likely experience increased development. In the long term, SEIA expects gradual growth due to the IRA and higher electricity rates, with a national capacity increase from 1,700 MWdc in the current year to 2,442 MWdc by 2028.

The U.S. energy storage industry marked a significant milestone in Q3 2023, installing a record 7,322 MWh storage capacity. The commercial, industrial, and community energy storage sector is expected to gain prominence, with forecasts projecting it to double in 2024. While analysts expect more geographic diversity in the country’s market, California's community solar and storage program will drive much of the growth.


Community Solar Sector Outlook and Opportunities

SEIA revised its 2023 outlook for community solar installations upward by 13%, indicating strong growth. With national installed capacity surpassing 1.1 GWdc at the end of 2023, the association forecasts an average annual growth rate of 8% through 2028.

The Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program, a 10 or 20% point boost to the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for qualified solar facilities in low-income communities, will continue to drive more community solar installations, with 1.8 GW of capacity available via application this year.

While historically concentrated in states like Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New York, community solar is expanding nationwide. States like Illinois, Minnesota, Maine, New Jersey, and Maryland are expected to experience substantial growth, supported by policy changes and incentives. Additionally, emerging programs in New Mexico, Virginia, and Hawaii signify the industry's expansion into new territories.


Brownfields and Multipurpose Land Use Gaining Prominence

In 2024, brownfields and land use will be critical considerations for C&I solar and community solar projects. The EPA identifies over 450,000 brownfield sites ready for renewable energy transition, especially in underserved markets. Converting these sites into platforms for renewable energy will play a pivotal role in advancing the solar industry.

Due to the location of many brownfields near low-income communities, many of these sites can potentially qualify for additional tax credits noted above. The EPA also helps remove barriers to redeveloping contaminated properties with the Land Revitalization Program.


Next-Gen Photovoltaic Technologies

In the quest for higher efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the spotlight in 2024 shifts to advanced PV technologies, with a particular emphasis on 210mm N-Type TOPCon solar cells like the Vertex N. This innovative technology, characterized by its superior performance and efficiency, is poised to elevate C&I solar projects by significantly enhancing energy capture and overall output. 

Unlike traditional PERC solar cells, 210mm N-Type TOPCon solar cells have higher efficiency rates and improved energy yield. These key features translate to increased electricity production for C&I solar projects, ensuring a more robust and financially viable energy generation system.


Integration with Solar Tracker and Energy Storage for Optimal Performance

Adopting 210mm N-Type TOPCon technology is not isolated; it synergizes seamlessly with solar trackers and energy storage solutions. The combined deployment ensures that C&I solar projects can boost energy yields and store excess energy efficiently to mitigate intermittency challenges and further reduce LCOE by reducing balance-of-system (BOS) costs.

However, navigating procurement, system design, and installation of commercial, industrial, or community solar projects with solar trackers and battery energy storage systems (BESS)will be a new avenue for many C&I project developers and EPC firms.

Trina Solar’s total smart solution for commercial, industrial, and community solar projects overcomes this challenge for developers and EPCs. By handling procurement for all major components and assisting with system design, Trina’s team of solar experts reduces the number of vendors and suppliers that developers and EPCs need while also ensuring optimized component interoperability, seamless installations, and lower LCOE.

Ready to gear up for commercial, industrial, or community solar project success in 2024? Reach out to Trina Solar to learn more about how we can help.

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