U.S. distributed solar markets have grown rapidly over the last decade from 0.4 gigawatts to 12.6 gigawatts, according to a recent report. But some sectors are under-represented including low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents, nonprofit organizations, municipal governments, and other community-serving entities.
To spur innovative pathways to support solar adoption across these market segments, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Solar in Your Community Prize Challenge in 2016. DOE selected 178 teams to participate with a goal to support 1,600 megawatts of solar deployment by 2020. A new NREL report, “Up to the Challenge: Communities Deploy Solar in Underserved Markets,” provides a summary of the Solar in Your Community challenge, participating teams, and key lessons learned. The report profiles 10 teams that have developed especially innovative models to expand solar access. Readers can learn more about each team through a summary of the team’s business model or project structure.
Three key takeaways emerge for others hoping to replicate the teams’ successes:
- Develop a clear understanding of how federal, state, and local policies affect local solar projects,
- Build durable and long-term partnerships with community members and solar stakeholders,
- Develop a creative portfolio of financing solutions for small- and medium-sized solar projects.
The report's authors will further discuss their findings in a July 10th webinar.