Aiming to deploy clean energy resources in densely-populated urban areas, a partnership will unlock $55 million for community solar project development in New York City.
Scale Microgrid Solutions will provide the capital to Urban Energy, which will target small commercial and condo/cooperative residential buildings with urban-specific solar power technologies.
Urban Energy will develop and acquire projects in all five New York City boroughs while also catering to under-served communities.
“Scale has provided us with flexible development capital that will help us grow our pipeline. With their commitment to acquire projects, we can now confidently offer financed solutions to building owners in New York City,” said Russell Wilcox, Co-Founder and CEO of Urban Energy.
Community solar — subscription-based access to clean energy for customers who can’t mount solar panels to their home or business — provides an avenue to clean energy in hard-to-reach urban areas.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has set a target of powering 5 million American homes with community solar by 2025 — an ambition that would require 700% growth of current capacity.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates a total of 3,253 MW-AC community solar capacity was installed in the U.S. by the end of 2020 — enough to power 600,000 homes. The cumulative installed capacity of community solar has grown rapidly since 2010, doubling on average year-over-year.
“Community solar is one of the most powerful tools we have to provide affordable solar energy to all American households, regardless of whether they own a home or have a roof suitable for solar panels,” Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement. “Achieving these ambitious targets will lead to meaningful energy cost savings, create jobs in these communities, and make our clean energy transition more equitable.”
Community solar enabling legislation exists in 21 states and the District of Columbia, either through state-required programs or authorization of pilot programs, according to NREL.
Currently, 72% of cumulative community solar capacity is concentrated in just four states: Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York.
Community solar projects allow residents without suitable rooftops for generation to take advantage of the benefits of solar power, improving access to renewable energy for low-income and disadvantaged communities. Community solar project subscribers often receive guaranteed cost savings on their energy bills, too.
The Biden administration believes reaching its community solar target could create $1 billion in energy savings.