With nearly 3GW of community solar in development, it is on track to reach 500MW across the nation by 2019. Source: Flickr/Clean Energy Resource

With nearly 3GW of community solar in development, it is on track to reach 500MW across the nation by 2019. Source: Flickr/Clean Energy Resource

The US community solar market is emerging as a promising source of demand, and has quadrupled between 2015 and 2016 and is set to double in 2017, reaching 400MW.  

According to GTM Research’s latest report 'US Community Solar Outlook 2017', this emerging market sector will reach 410MW this year. Lead report author Cory Honeyman describes the market as “on the cusp of becoming a mainstream driver of US solar market growth.”

Despite some “missed growth opportunities” through regulatory and legislative delays, community solar reached 200MW this past year, with states such as New York, Nebraska and Massachusetts fully embracing the phenomenon with new accommodating rules.

Much of that growth happened in the second half of the year, with more than half of cumulative community solar installations brought online since this past July. In 2016, most of the policy debates focused on states with third-party-led projects marketed by developers.

However, a majority of community solar capacity additions came from utilities with voluntary community solar programmes, of which there are 150 in place or in development.

“Looking ahead, the community solar market will be defined by utilities scaling up pilot programmes beyond a single sub-1MW project, and the regulatory driven boom-and-bust cycles of third-party led state markets,” said Honeyman.

Despite amassing good growth this past year, GTM notes that given the volatile nature of utility-led procurement and an uncertain regulatory landscape for third-party programmes, community solar stemming from these sources will likely vary dramatically on a year-to-year basis.

Regardless, with nearly 3GW of community solar in development, it is on track to reach 500MW across the nation by 2019. 

Tags: us, usa, gtm research, community solar, utilities, third party financing

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