The report, Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation, provides a high-level overview of the current U.S. shared solar landscape, including an estimate of market potential for U.S. shared solar deployment. Shared solar models allocate the electricity of a jointly owned or leased system to offset individual consumers’ electricity bills, allowing multiple energy consumers to share the benefits of a single solar array.
Despite tremendous growth in the U.S. solar market over the last decade, existing business models and regulatory environments have not been designed to provide access to a significant portion of potential photovoltaic (PV) system customers. Multifamily, for example, represents a significant opportunity. Multifamily comprises a significant portion of the housing market; however, the nature of the ownership and residency structure has created a so-called “split incentive” when it comes to energy efficiency, making it difficult for either owner or resident to be motivated to purchase a PV system for a rental property. As a result, many of the economic, environmental, and social benefits of distributed PV are unavailable to this segment of consumers.
However, emerging business models for solar deployment have the potential to expand the solar market customer-base dramatically. Options such as offsite shared solar and arrays on multi-unit buildings can enable rapid, widespread market growth by increasing access to renewables on readily available sites, potentially lowering costs via economies of scale, pooling customer demand and fostering business model and technical innovations.
Moreover, if federal, state and local policies can institute a supportive regulatory environment, shared solar presents an area of tremendous potential growth for solar photovoltaics, expanding the potential customer base to include rental and owner households. Report authors estimate that 49 percent of households are currently unable to host a PV system because they rent their homes, live in high-rise or multi-unit buildings or live in buildings with limited roof space for the technology.
The report was written by David Feldman, Anna M. Brockway, Elaine Ulrich and Robert Margolis and published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in association with the U.S. Department of Energy.