Monday, August 25, 2014

Can Open Standards Accelerate Community Shared Solar? by Joy Hughes | Renewable Energy World

Tesla Motors recently announced that it would share its technology patents, which has put a spotlight on open source and open standards. These standards already play a huge role in the computer industry: PCs have an open architecture and the World Wide Web has open standards. Google built its business on the open source Apache server and developed the open Android operating system. In 2011, Tioga Energy released an open source solar PPA. Can open standards and open source benefit the community shared solar industry?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Solar Gardens for China - An Appeal to our Readers

I have been invited to speak at the Low Carbon Energy Summit in Qingdao, China on September 21-23. The title of my talk will be Powering Planet Earth: Community and Shared Solar Worldwide. Over the following two months, I plan to give workshops in the major cities of China explaining how we have implemented community solar here in the United States, and how the idea might translate to other countries. Of course I will be blogging the whole time!

For many reasons, China is the ideal place to build shared solar arrays. Many people live in apartment buildings, and the population is generally interested in savings and investment. China faces severe air pollution and has become a coal importer, and the high carbon intensity of its electricity means that a solar panel installed there will prevent more carbon emissions than one installed in the United States. China installs more renewable energy than any other country in the world -- yet the idea of community solar has not yet become mainstream in China.

I believe Chinese solar manufacturers will be quite interested in this idea! I am interested in referrals to companies and organizations that might wish to host workshops in China, and any other useful contacts you may have. I would be most grateful!

I have been offered a greatly reduced registration rate for the conference. I will, however, still need to raise funds for my travel and expenses - about $5000 total. You can help by making a donation at:

I will be happy to mention larger donors ($500 or over) on the blog and at my talk and workshops as sponsors of the Solar Gardens for China tour.

Please forward this email widely to any appropriate individuals or lists.


Joy Hughes
Founder, Solar Gardens Institute

Open-Source PVMapper Tool A Cure For The Not-In-My-Backyard Blues | Solar Industry Magazine

Wouldn't it be nice to have a map of all the backyards people don't want your proposedsolar project in?

Working under a $2.8 million grant from the U.SDepartment of Energy'sSunShot Initiativea group of researchers from Boise State UniversityIdaho StateUniversitythe University of Idaho and the Idaho National Laboratory have developedPVMappera geographic information system (GISthat helps large-scale photovoltaicproject developers take social preferences and constraints into account.

"I've been working on infrastructure siting for a while now," says David Solandirectorof the Energy Policy Institute at Boise State University and a leader on the PVMapper project. "There used to be a school of thought that just because a project was green,people wouldn't care about its proximity to certain thingsSurprisePV is still infrastructure."

Read More:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

US State Breaks Ground on a "Perfect" Solar + Storage Microgrid that Can Provide Resilient Power

Today Green Mountain Power (GMP) broke ground on a solar plus energy storage microgrid in Rutland, Vermont with one expert calling it a "perfect" project. The 2.5-MW Stafford Hill solar project is being developed in conjunction with Dynapower and GroSolar and includes 4 MW of battery storage, both lithium ion and lead acid, to integrate the solar generation into the local grid, and to provide resilient power in case of a grid outage.

Read more:

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Few Weeds in Minnesota Decision to Allow Community Solar Gardens to Grow | Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Late last week, Minnesota regulators made a decision that may finally allow community solar projects to move forward (for Xcel Energy customers) in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. However, the Public Utilities Commission decision also highlighted the shortcomings of the legislature's distributed solar policy adopted in 2013.
What was missing? Minnesota's increasingly well-known "value of solar" formula was not selected, but rather an "applicable retail rate" that's much more similar to traditional net metering.
The decision last week settled a months-long debate about how subscribers to community solar projects in Minnesota will be compensated, nearly four months after the Commission approved program rules in April. The crux of the matter was that the value of solar formula is mandatory, but utility adoption of it is not. Since Xcel Energy, the only mandatory host of community solar projects, has yet to adopt the value of solar, they successfully lobbied the Commission for an alternative.
That meant looking to traditional net metering, with customers of solar gardens receiving compensation for their share of power generation at a rate comparable to their own electricity rate. However, the law was also clear that the rate paid to subscribers had to be enough to make community solar work, and developers were clear that the "applicable retail rate" (and the value of solar rate of approximately 12¢ per kilowatt-hour) were both insufficient.

Read more:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vermont Business Magazine: Shumlin announces Clean Energy grants for nine community solar projects | SunCommon

"I'm here today with local community officials, representatives of great solar companies like Northern Reliability and SunCommon, and others committed to growing our economy, creating jobs and protecting the environment through renewable energy projects," the Governor said. "We have more than quadrupled the amount of solar energy in Vermont since I became Governor, and I am very pleased to be able to announce Clean Energy Development Fund solar grants to keep our momentum going."

As part of his Summer Solar Tour, Governor Peter Shumlin today visited Northern Reliability in Waitsfield, one of the many solar businesses that has helped Vermont earn the Number 1 national ranking for solar jobs per capita, to announce $442,750 in Clean Energy Development Fund grants for nine community solar projects. Overall these grants will support the installation of more than 500 kilowatts of solar for schools, towns, and communities in Vermont. This includes $80,000 for the Town of Waitsfield to install a 102 kilowatt solar project on the town garage to power Waitsfield's municipal buildings.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

California - Making Community Solar Gardens Work | M.Cubed

California has been quite successful at encouraging the development of (1) large utility-scale renewables through the renewables portfolio standard (RPS) and other measures and (2) small-scale, single structure solar generation through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and measures such as net energy metering (NEM).  However, there have been numerous market and regulatory barriers to developing and deploying the “in-between” community-scale and neighborhood-scalerenewables that hold substantial promise.
Community-scale and neighborhood-scale distributed generation (DG) includes some technologies that simply are not cost-effective at the small scale of a single house or business, but are not large enough to justify the transaction costs of participating in the larger wholesale electricity market.  These resources, such as “community solar gardens”, can meet the demands of many customers who cannot take advantage of adding renewables at their location and can also reduce investment in expensive new transmission projects. Examples of these types of projects are parking structure-scale solar photovoltaics, solar-thermal generation and space cooling, and biogas and biomass projects, some of which could provide district heating.  Technology costs are falling so rapidly that these mid-scale projects are becoming competitive with utility-scale resources when transmission cost savings are factored in. SB 43 (Wolk 2013) recognizes that the promise of mid-scale renewables has not been realized.