Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What is Community Renewable Energy?

Back in 2010, a group of community solar pioneers took a shot at defining community renewable energy! With minor rewrites, here are the 10 criteria. This could serve as a guide in project development and in evaluating various models.

1. Community renewable energy is initiated through an open grass-roots process with all stake holders at the table.

2. Community renewable energy is as distributed as possible – if not on your roof, in your neighborhood. If not in your neighborhood, within your county.

3. Community renewable energy takes into account all externalities – carbon footprint, land use, and visual + auditory impacts.

4. Community renewable energy is integrated into the local environment with multiple uses – combined with plant or animal production (agrivoltaics), covered parking, brownfield redevelopment, etc.

5. Community renewable energy strengthens community capital – local agriculture, religious or environmental groups, schools, libraries, community centers, etc.

6. Community renewable energy is owned in common or fractionally by its users, or leased-to-own, with the right to democratic governance.

7. Community renewable energy keeps money local, re-investing in additional solar or other community benefits.

8. Community renewable energy supports local entrepreneurs, workers, and non-profits.

9. Community renewable energy is available to low and middle income people and people of color in numbers sufficient to equalize solar penetration amongst socioeconomic groups.

10. Community renewable energy keeps people engaged in groups, helping them become more sustainable in every way. Community renewable energy groups reach out to other communities, work together, and share resources and knowledge.

Link to the page at

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tucson RV park becomes first in nation to use unique solar array

"It is two acres of 28-feet-high solar arrays that provide shade for 30 recreational vehicles. The solar array design comes from a Chandler, AZ, company. It is considered a plus for KOA because it saves energy and power costs."

""Elements of the design that allow dappled light - we call dappled light - filtered light to come through, create patterns of light to come through, allowing you to grow trees, plants, flowers. The elevated structure doesn't block the view of the horizon," said Bob Boscamp, president of Strategic Solar Energy."

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ireland: Proclamation for Community Energy | Friends of the Earth

100 community groups and co-operatives launch a Proclamation for Community Energy today. For the first time in Ireland this 'Proclamation for Community Energy' recognises communities as active participants in the clean energy transition, and as the best way to unlock the renewable energy potential in Ireland.

Imagine a community putting its hands up and deciding to build a wind farm. Imagine all the schools in a town running on clean free solar electricity. Imagine your heating is powered by biomass and waste from the local farms. Imagine the profits from the local renewable energy project are shared by the local energy co-operative and the individuals and communities who are part of it. Imagine we owned all or part of the renewable energy that powers our lives.

Major Report: Community Solar Program Design Models | Solar Electric Power Association

The Solar Electric Power Association is the solar power advocacy group most associated with the utility industry. According to their website, "SEPA is an educational non-profit that enables the transition to a clean energy economy by facilitating utility integration and deployment of solar, demand response, other distributed energy resources, and supporting technologies onto the grid."

SEPA has released a major report on community shared solar prepared through DOE SunShot's Solar Market Pathways grant program. The report analyzes the current state of the solar gardens market and the business models used. Many existing arrays are not currently fully subscribed.


PV Solar Report article has posted an article on this topic:

"The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) surveyed 25 of the active community solar projects for a new report to discover how to make them more successful. It found that currently only one-third of the projects are fully subscribed. A quarter of them were less than 50 percent subscribed. The new report, “Community Solar Program Design Models,” is intended to help community solar farms gain the customers they need to be successful."

"Overall SEPA is tracking 68 community solar projects across the country. The majority of them are smaller than 1 megawatt in size. SEPA also found that the majority, 73 percent, charge an up front fee of $3 per watt in 2015, down from $5 per watt in 2011 for customers participating."

"SEPA’s initial research shows that consumers are interested in community solar. But they community solar options with flexible commitments. They’re not looking for long-term contracts, for instance, and they want their shares in the farm to be transferable. Some consumers also want the solar farm located where they can’t see it."

Monday, December 7, 2015

New training video and slides: Solar Gardens for Low and Moderate Income Communities

On Friday, December 4th, Here Comes Solar in New York City hosted a webinar on shared solar inclusion for low to moderate income communities. The topics discussed here are applicable nationwide.

How can we make access to clean renewable energy a human right? Until recently, the majority of residential solar energy systems have been installed for well-off homeowners with sunny roofs. A solar garden is like a community garden - instead of having a patch of vegetables, a customer benefits from a number of panels in a shared array, with power produced credited on the electric bill.

The YouTube video is below:

The slides are also available on SlideShare:

New Solar Gardens FAQ has a new updated FAQ!

As time has moved on and both the community solar landscape and our organization have changed, the website is changing as well to better support solar gardeners everywhere.

Please let us know if you find this useful, and if you have any unanswered questions that should be included here.

New FAQ at:

The Tea Party leader taking a stand for solar energy: 'I will do what's right' | US news | The Guardian

Debbie Dooley is a firebrand Republican and an outspoken founding member of the Tea Party. But in a fast-intensifying battle over the future of solar power in Florida, she isnot on the side you might expect.
Along with a diverse grassroots citizens' coalition including environmentalists and other left-leaning activists, Dooley is taking on Big Energy and its big-spending conservative backers in an intriguing fight that puts her toe-to-toe with her onetime political allies.
Read more:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How equity crowd-funding could transform the community energy sector | One Step Off The Grid

Around Australia, communities are gathering to create community energy projects which deliver triple bottom line benefits to regional and urban communities. However, only a handful of projects have succeeded so far – thanks largely to the compliance cost of current investment regulations. In this article we explain how equity crowd-funding reform – if done appropriately could open the floodgates to the community energy sector.

Up to 80 groups across Australia are attempting to create such projects – however, only a handful of projects have succeeded so far. A primary reason for the lack of success to date is the current investment regulations which limit equity crowdfunding. In this article we explain how equity crowd-funding reform – if done appropriately could open the floodgates to the community energy sector.

Read More:

Are Private Electricity Grids Fuelled by Renewable Energy the Future for Communities? |

December 1, 2015

By Andrew Spence, The Lead

Connecting new housing estates to their own private electricity grids fuelled by renewable energy is the cornerstone of ZEN Energy’s plan to put power back in the hands of consumers.

The company has launched ZEN Communities – an “end to end” service from power generation through to networks and retailing to deliver low cost renewable energy direct to entire communities.

ZEN Energy Director of Innovation Richard Turner founded the company in South Australia 11 years ago and has overseen its evolution from solar panel installer to Australia’s first dedicated “community energy provider.”

Turner said ZEN had teamed up with Greensmith Energy Management systems, which last year delivered a third of the energy storage market in the U.S., including the largest system in the world – big enough to power a regional township.

“Suddenly we’ve got relatively new technology that has come down dramatically in cost to the point where we can build a renewable power station at a township level which takes the form of shipping container sized batteries – you might have five or six or 10 of these in a row,” Turner said. “It’s almost going back to the future – back 100 years to the old township-based power supply."

South Australia is cementing itself as a world leader in green energy as companies begin cracking the code to make renewables commercially viable.

Nearly a quarter of houses in South Australia have installed rooftop solar panels, making it one of the highest penetration rates in the world. It is also the largest producer of wind energy in Australia – the state’s 1.5 GW ofwind energy represents almost half of the country’s capability.

South Australia made headlines around the world when it was announced that the state – 'a place with the population of West Virginia' – had been powered by 100 percent renewable energy for an entire working day.

Turner said ZEN’s community projects could range in size from single homes to townships up to 20,000 properties.

He said solar, wind, biomass, biowaste or hydro power could be generated within the community and moved around the mini-grid to where it was needed or stored for later use.

“It’s all about optomizing the best natural mix of resources in an area that we can harness to produce the lowest cost power, then we balance that off with energy storage,” he said.

ZEN’s first pilot project will begin next year at a housing development in Melbourne.

Turner said the communities would be much easier to set up in green field sites where there were no connections to existing power networks.

“We have to get to these new developments before they turn dirt because we have to get a distribution exemption to build a private network,” he said. “There’s about 100,000 homes already in the pipeline from developers who have approached us wanting to use this model for new housing developments; so our aim is to get this community model right and then potentially take them to other countries. We’ve got that many inquiries already from around the world; it’s ridiculous but we’ve still got a lot of work to do in Australia with our pilots.”

He added, "within a couple of years you’ll see them in full swing probably all around the country.”

ZEN appointed high-profile Australian economist and national climate change review author Ross Garnaut as its chairman last month.

“He quite clearly understands where energy markets are heading and as a result of that he’s become the chairman of ZEN,” Turner said of Garnaut. “We’ve got a very heavy hitting board and we’ve brought these people in to give us the leverage and the ability to work with the utilities and develop this new energy sector. To make this a reality you’ve got to bring the right people in."

He added, “Ross Garnaut sought us out; he said there’s a real opportunity to do this community power and ZEN is best placed to make this a reality.”

Turner said South Australia was perfectly placed to be at the forefront of renewable energy advancements.

“Adelaide’s a smaller city," he said. "We’ve got a very entrepreneurial population – we’ve just had to be to survive – we also have the best renewable energy resources in the world in terms of solar and wind and we also have very high power prices because we are on the end of the eastern power grid. All the elements add up to be the perfect storm here in South Australia to develop these sorts of technologies.”

This article was published under a Creative Commons agreement by The Lead South Australia.