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Community solar in the US is on course to become a 500MW annual market by 2020, making it the country’s most significant growth segment, a GTM Research report has claimed.

The study, ‘US Community Solar Outlook 2015-2020’, predicts a fivefold increase for the burgeoning market this year, followed by 59% compound annual growth thereafter.

Although it is currently only at a low base of 66MW countrywide, the levels of growth predicted by GTM will make it a half-gigawatt annual market by 2020, adding 1.8GW by that time.

The report identifies 24 states in the US with at least one community solar project online, and a further 20 states in the process or near enacting community solar legislation.

States with community solar legislation will be the key drivers of near-term growth in the segment, accounting for 80% of installations between now and 2015, GTM said. Over the next two years, four states – California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota – are expected to install the majority of community solar.

“Looking ahead to 2020 the community solar opportunity is poised to become more geographically diversified, as developers ramp up service offerings to utilities in states without community solar legislation in place and national rooftop solar companies enter the community solar scene,” said GTM Research's senior solar analyst Cory Honeyman.

The report identifies 29 developers that are actively working on community solar projects, with two companies – Clean Energy Collective and SunShare – jointly accounting for 32% of operating community solar capacity.

Earlier this month, leading US installer SolarCity signalled its first foray into community solar when it revealed plans to build a series of community solar gardens in Minnesota.