“It takes a village.” While this popular quote — originally an African proverb — is generally applied to the concept of raising a child, we at KC Solar believe it holds merit in another area. We truly believe in the importance of community in promoting the widespread adoption of solar energy. Whether it comes from local solar efforts, community solar, or elsewhere.
Solar technologies provide solutions to problems that we, as citizens of planet earth, must face together. By working together to increase solar energy systems across our own communities, we can improve local economies, environmental benefits and public health.
Keep reading to learn more about the impacts of community-based efforts to improve access to solar energy.
Economic Benefits of Local Solar
It turns out that even when a small portion of a community goes solar, the benefits can extend far and wide on an exponentially larger scale. Consider a study published in early December 2020 by Vote Solar, the Coalition for Community Solar Access, and solar provider Sunrun: if just one-quarter of U.S. households were powered by local rooftop and community solar and storage, Americans would benefit financially and environmentally. In fact, the U.S. could save billions of dollars annually.
Why Local Solar: The Report
The groups shared their findings in a report, Why Local Solar for All Costs Less: A New Roadmap for the Lowest Cost Grid, including the following:
- Deploying at least 247 GW of local rooftop and community solar on the grid would be the most cost-effective way to transition to a clean energy system by 2050. It is also the most cost-effective way to reach 95% emission reductions from 1990 levels.
- Under a national 95% clean electricity target, leveraging expanded local solar and storage can save the U.S. $473 billion by 2050 compared to a clean electricity grid that doesn’t expand local solar and storage.
- A clean electric grid that leverages expanded local solar and storage is $88 billion less expensive than a grid that does nothing different than we’re doing today (no clean electricity mandates and not leveraging expanded local solar and storage).
- The lowest cost grid requires a lot more utility-scale solar. In fact, retiring fossil-fueled power plants that run infrequently and deploying local storage more efficiently will help integrate 798 GW of utility-scale solar and 802 GW of utility-scale wind by 2050.
- The cost analysis accounted for direct costs and benefits only, but local solar and storage brings additional societal benefits to communities such as jobs, increased economic development, increased resilience, and more equitable access to the benefits of renewables.
Shared Solar Programs
What happens if you want to reap the benefits of solar energy for your home and community, but you are renting an apartment? Or perhaps you’re considered low-income, or you are a homeowner and you just don’t have the real estate for rooftop solar panels. Shared and community solar programs are working hard to increase access to solar energy to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
Throughout the U.S., there are a variety of community solar projects and programs that function in different ways to help achieve the goal of providing solar energy access to all Americans. In many of these programs, program participants generally own or lease a portion of the shared system or may purchase kW-hour blocks of energy generation. While some programs are local, there have also been national efforts to expand solar energy across communities.
A couple of examples: The National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) is a “coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025.” And the Solar in Your Community Challenge was a “$5 million prize competition designed to incentivize the development of new approaches to increase the affordability of electricity while expanding solar adoption across America.”
Protecting Public Health
A 2019 report on climate change warned that “the climate change apocalypse” could come by 2050 if we don’t begin to take rapid steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions. And although the report was authored by Australian scientists from the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, the message was aimed at one particular audience: all humans on planet earth.
But while climate change is a major point during discussions about renewable energy sources such as solar power, the impacts on public health are sometimes forgotten. In reality, widespread solar adoption — even on the local or community level — could have tangible impacts on the public health outcomes of that community.
When looking at the energy sources that are more commonly used today, such as oil and natural gas, it’s not hard to see how their emissions can be harmful to humans. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, smog and other byproducts have been clearly linked to health outcomes such as respiratory disease and cardiovascular distress.
Solar energy, on the other hand, is free from emissions. And increased adoption of solar and other renewable energy sources at a local level could help improve public health while potentially lowering the health care costs of a population by millions of dollars annually.
KC Solar Cares About Our Community
At KC Solar, we’re proud to be Kansas City born and raised. And one of the things we love the most about KC is the community-oriented feel of our city.
When it comes to helping you find the right solar solution for you, we are committed to answering all your questions and designing a solar system you’re happy with. Because we care about you, and we care about our town.
Let’s work together and bring more solar energy to KC. It can benefit us all.