The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Pallets of PV: Communities Purchase Solar and Drive Down Costs Together

Think of it like Costco or Sam's Club for purchasing solar photovolatics (PV). Some savvy folks in Oregon thought it would be a great idea to buy PV in bulk for their neighborhood to get a big volume discount and share the savings with neighbors.

So they created the Solarize campaign, which over the last three years has helped Portland add "[more than] 1.7 MW of distributed PV and [establish] a strong, steady solar installation economy." In fact, so successful was the Portland model that several other communities started their own Solarize campaigns, including Washington State; Massachusetts; Vermont; San Diego, California; and multi-city campaigns from One Block Off the Grid and GroupEnergy.

All of the great details, including how to set up your own program, are laid out in "The Solarize Guidebook: A Community Guide to Collective Purchasing of Residential PV Systems," released in May 2012. This roadmap is for state and local governments and community leaders wanting to create a program to buy PV in bulk. It describes how Solarize Portland executed its program, explains how other neighborhoods across the United States are building off their efforts, and describes the steps needed to have a successful campaign in six months or less. This report is an update to a previous version published in January 2011 and includes new info on lessons learned not only in Portland, but across the other 1,960 Solarize installations.

The key to Solarize's success is that it directly tackles three major market barriers: (1) high upfront cost, (2) complex solar purchasing options, and (3) customer inertia (i.e., it is easier to do nothing than do something). Some of the key success elements include: (1) competitive contractor selection led by the community, (2) community-led outreach and education, and (3) making it a limited time offer (so you have to act now!). And how well did the bulk purchasing work?  Solarize Portland drove solar market costs down by 30 percent - 35 percent as compared to before the program.

By offering system financing to participants, Solarize campaigns tap a larger market for PV. Different ways to provide financing include low/no-interest municipal loans, bank or credit union loans, solar leases, third-party power purchase agreements (PPAs), or even utility loans. The right type of financing will depend on your local community, your partners, and how actively they want to be engaged.

And the best part about the guide? After each case study, it includes contact information for the folks on the ground, so communities can get answers to all of their questions.

So for anyone interested in buying PV in bulk — there is a clear way to do so, even if the warehouse or home improvement stores can't help you out today.

This article was originally published on NREL Renewable Energy Finance and was republished with permission.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now


Listen Up: Can I Get Solar if my Roof is Shaded

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World Rooftop solar panels only work when they are in direct sunlight. So if you have a partially shaded roof, the output o...

US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

US, China Solar PV Players Team Up, Invest $100MM in Chile, Uruguay and Japan

Andrew Burger Private equity infrastructure specialist Hudson Clean Energy Partners and Hong Kong-based independent power producer ...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...


Power Engineering and Renewable Energy World Magazines Name Projects of the Year Awards Finalists

Tulsa, Okla. and Nashua, N.H., Oct. 5, 2015 -- The editors of Power Engineering and Ren... Welcomes Jennifer Delony as Associate Editor

PennWell Corporation is pleased to announce that Jennifer Delony has joined the company...

CleanTX Releases New White Paper on the Future of Texas Solar in Texas

We love this new White Paper from our clean energy partners CleanTX

Customized Energy Solutions Executes Agreement with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) for Important Energy Storage Study

Customized Energy Solutions (CES) has entered into agreements with Massachusetts Clean ...


New Hampshire Promotes Better Wood Heating

New Hampshire’s location in northern New England means that the winters are long and cold. Heating costs are hi...

Renewable Energy Starts to Makes Fossil Fuel More Expensive

by Chris Meehan A new report out from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) found an interesti...

Hawaii: World’s First Hydrogen Economy?

Can Hawaii become the world’s first renewable energy/hydrogen economy? Hawaii’s small size, isolation ...
energy efficiency

Beyond the Trend: Maximizing the Impact of Your Energy Efficiency Solution

A revolution is happening in the energy sector. From the new regulations pushed out earlier this summer by the EPA’s ...


Karlynn Cory is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Project Finance Team Lead. She has over 15 years of research and analysis experience in renewable energy policy and markets, including feed-in tariff programs, renewable energy certificate...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Canadian Solar Inverters Webinar

Canadian Solar is proud to be hosting two free webinars in October! The ...

JuiceBox Energy Certified Installer Class

JuiceBox Energy is rapidly building out its national certified installer...


How To Speak, How To Listen

As sales professionals, effective communication is paramount to our succ...

Get In The Habit

We all develop habits throughout our lives. Sometimes they’re bene...

Becoming An Efficiency Sales Professional

In order to become a sales professional, you must first realize that: E...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now