A 9.2-megawatt solar array on the roof of a commercial warehouse in Maryland is now the largest rooftop community solar project in the U.S.
Summit Ridge Energy hosted a ribbon cutting Tuesday for the project, which it operates and jointly owns along with climate investment firm Hannon Armstrong. Located in Carroll County, Maryland, the warehouse is owned by STAG Industrial.
“This is a marquee project for Summit Ridge, our capital partners at Hannon Armstrong and the entire community solar industry,” said Summit Ridge CEO Steve Raeder. “Leveraging 23 acres of largely unused roof space to generate energy savings for thousands of Marylanders is precisely the direction our nation’s energy generation strategy needs to head.”
The project is expected to provide monthly energy savings to approximately 1,300 residential and small commercial subscribers across Maryland.
Summit Ridge Energy’s community solar portfolio in Maryland has grown to more than 75 MW of capacity with nearly one-third of projects serving low-to-moderate income customers.
In October, the Biden administration set a target of powering 5 million American homes with community solar projects 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.