The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently set a new goal for the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) that calls on community solar systems to power the equivalent of 5 million households by 2025. The NCSP is an active coalition of community members, developers, utilities, financial institutions, governments and other solar stakeholders with a mission to expand affordable access to community solar.

While community solar has made major strides in recent years, the NCSP’s target is still extremely ambitious. The country installed 177 MWdc of community solar during Q3 2021, representing a 16% increase over Q2 2021 and a surge of 31% over Q3 2020. However, the cumulative installed capacity for community solar only currently powers around 600,000 households — a far cry from the NCSP’s updated goal of 26 GW. Reaching the target of 5 million households powered by community solar will require an increase of more than 700% over the next four years. 

Meeting this aggressive target means EPCs and developers will need a smart C&I solution that streamlines procurement and optimizes interconnection — all while lowering the PV systems’ levelized cost of energy and boosting overall project value. 

Read on to learn how Trina Solar’s C&I Solutions can help.


Why Community Solar Matters

Building a sustainable energy grid requires more than simply decarbonizing through greater renewable deployment. It also involves ensuring that community members of all types have access to the benefits of renewable energy, such as lower energy costs, increased grid resilience and better environmental quality. 

Community solar provides people with easy access to solar energy who might not have access to it otherwise. This includes individuals and families who rent or have a house with a roof that’s too small or constantly shaded, and those people with low-to-moderate incomes who can’t afford it. Expanding accessibility to community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million homes will create $1 billion in energy bill savings for these people. This makes the DOE’s new community solar targets a major factor in ensuring that renewable energy is accessible for as many people as possible. 

Additionally, community solar will play a crucial role in helping states reach their decarbonization goals. Currently, 21 states and Washington, D.C., have policies in place enabling community solar projects. The states with the most favorable capacity forecasted for 2020-2026 (forecasts from before the DOE’s announcement) include:

  1. New York State - 1182 MWdc

  2. Massachusetts - 897 MWdc 

  3. Maine - 704 MWdc

  4. New Jersey - 546 MWdc

  5. Minnesota - 474 MWdc

  6. Illinois - 302 MWdc

  7. Maryland - 300 MWdc

  8. Colorado - 209 MWdc

It’s no coincidence that each of these states have also set strict standards for reaching 100% clean or renewable energy.



Trina Solar’s C&I Solutions Makes it Easy

Even before the DOE set these new NCSP targets, Wood MacKenzie was already projecting annual community solar additions to average around 800 MWdc for the next five years. The new NCSP targets will most likely require this forecast to be revised upward significantly.

But developing community solar projects come with their share of obstacles for developers and EPCs that need a solution. Permitting can be complicated as every AHJ has their own set of rules and policies. Siting the system and interconnection can take considerable time to resolve, sometimes up to a year. Mix in procurement and installation challenges, and the obstacles begin adding up considerably. 

By design, Trina Solar’s C&I Solutions makes it easy by mitigating the common risks associated with community solar project development. Trina’s C&I Solutions offers a one-stop shopping model of procurement, so EPCs and developers deal with considerably fewer vendors and reduce the chances of procurement risks. Bundling of the major PV components ensures optimized interoperability and seamless interconnection. 

Reach out to the community solar pros at Trina Solar’s C&I Solutions to learn more about how to lower LCOE and boost project value.  

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