Navigant Research says community solar will see tremendous growth in next five years - from 88.6 MW in 2015 to 1.5 GW in 2020

Community Solar forecasted to capture 2% of the total solar market in the US, forcing utilities to rethink their business models

At the end of 2015, community solar generated $175 million in revenue, but is expected to grow up to $2.5 billion by 2020

Growth drivers for this segment of solar will be lower system cost and sustained demand for clean energy in residential and commercial sector

A report on the potential of community solar in the US puts the total deployment to 1.5 GW in 2020. Navigant Research’s ‘Community Solar and Virtual Net Metering Utility Technology Disruption Report,’ says community solar (CS) will be a $2.5 billion market in the country five years down the line.

According to the recently released report, at the end of 2015, 88.6 MW was installed through CS programs across the US, generating $175 million in revenue. It predicts the segment to capture 2% of the US solar market driven by lower system cost and sustained demand for clean energy in the residential and commercial sector. “However, the resulting decrease in utility control and increase in retail competition will require a rethinking of current utility business models and their electricity generation mix,” says the report.

US utilities have been deploying CS programs since 2010, targeting both residential and commercial users in building complexes who do not have an adequate roof to support solar electricity generationn or renters. Power customers benefit from solar systems that are neither on their nor on the the utility’s premises, but makes use of the energy company’s transmission and distribution infrastructure. CS is made possible by virtual net metering, which enables consumers to offset part or all of their electricity bills with the electricity generated by the solar power project. But not only power customers benefit from CS. “At the same time, utilities improve customer satisfaction and limit the economic and technical impact that rooftop solar generation can have on their business,” says Roberto Rodriguez Labastida, senior research analyst with Navigant Research.

Navigant Research 21-page report provides cost curve projections and adoption forecasts through 2025 along with state wide estimate capacity distribution. It also provides recommendations for the stakeholders. The report can be ordered at Navigant’s website.