The market potential is clearly enormous in the near future. The authors assert that shared solar will account for just about all the growth in the U.S. solar market after the Investment Tax Credit expires at the end of 2016. "Combining the potential market penetration of the shared solar business model in the residential and non-residential sectors [...] we estimate that shared solar could represent 32%–49% of the distributed PV market in 2020, growing cumulative PV deployment by 5.5– 11.0 GW and representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment." That's a lot of solar gardens!
The paper recounts research using LIDAR models suggesting that about 50% of U.S. households cannot host a PV array of 1.5kW or greater. This is significantly less than the 75% number typically used in the community solar industry, and should be considered a lower bound, as it does not allow for poor quality roofs, historic districts, and the like.
New IRS rulings make the tax picture look more hopeful for subscribers to be able to claim their own tax credits, although this will only matter until the likely ITC expiration.
- Joy Hughes
Read the paper at NREL: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/63892.pdf