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

Virtual Metering: Solar Benefits Without an On-site Solar PV Array

Are you interested in the benefits of a solar PV array but don't believe you can afford it? Is your home in a heavily-shaded area that would prohibit a good return-on-investment from solar? Do you rent? Maybe you live in a community with a homeowners' association, where you're not permitted a rooftop solar array?

Virtual metering may be the answer. Virtual metering is when your solar PV array is located off-site so you can receive clean, low-cost renewable energy generated by solar panels mounted in another location. Often, this concept is called “Community Solar,” since the solar is provided by the utility company, the municipality or even investors.

Mike Taylor, director of research for the Solar Electric Power Association, explains: “It’s somewhat similar to leasing solar panels from a solar company that puts them on your home, except in this case, the utility is putting a larger system somewhere in their service territory. The utility company takes on the risk of owning and maintaining it; customers benefit from no- or low-cost solar, low contract obligations, and portability.”

Not that a solar PV array requires much maintenance or a lot to think about, but this type of virtual metering works especially well in places like apartment buildings, houses that are part of homeowners’ associations, or homes in heavily-shaded areas — three market segments that typically could not benefit from solar power for a variety of reasons. Virtual metering also works well for lower-income homeowners without the cash to pay for a solar array or the credit history to get any sort of financing in the form of a solar lease or a loan.

Could Virtual Metering Be the Solar Model of the Future?

Taylor thinks its one piece of the puzzle that will increase the percentage of electric power that comes from the sun. “A lot of utilities are interested in the concept,” Taylor says. “Lower solar prices are enabling that interest. Getting solar benefits to a broader range of income demographics, not just high-income or early adopter customers, is a notable goal. It wouldn’t surprise me if 30 utilities offered community solar by the end of the year.”

“But,” Taylor adds,” this is a niche area of development and there are larger issues at play.”

Some of those larger issues, he says, involve economics and utility cost recovery. “Theoretically, if half of all customers reduced their electricity use by 25 percent, utilities wouldn’t be able to recover the costs of running the electric grid and would have to raise electric rates. Even people with solar still need the electric grid – it’s much cheaper than batteries. People who didn’t have solar and/or weren’t efficient would absorb that increase more than others.”

The issues Taylor brings up echo HelioPower’s senior vice president of sales Scott Gordon’s thoughts on the “grid of the future.” Gordon asserts that utilities will move to a distribution, rather than generation or creation, model for electricity as more customers move to renewable energy sources. But if utilities are creating energy through community solar programs, it reduces their loss.

Taylor says: “Community solar can promote solar to a broader customer base, at potentially lower costs than rebate programs at a customer’s site, at potentially less revenue loss than net metering.”

He, too, speculates on the “grid of the future.”

“Can utilities do business differently in ways that minimize costs and expand benefits? I see virtual metering as one test bed for that transition. Community solar isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s looking in the right direction.”

This article was originally published on EcoOutfitters and was republished with permission.

Image: pan_kung via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Study Reveals Room for Sales Response Improvement in Growing Solar Industry

Scott Ankley Solar installations have grown by more than 600 percent across both residential and commercial properties in the past...

Why Renewable Energy in Latin America is a Winner

Carlos Candiales Renewable energy in Latin America has made some important gains over the last decade and seems positioned to continue...

Solar Cell Efficiency Could Double with Novel “Green” Antenna

Renewable Energy World Editors The use of solar energy in the U.S. is growing, but panels on rooftops are still a rare sight. They cost thousands of...

LG Chem: Storage Battery Leader

Debra Fiakas The post “Energy Storage Restart,” which was published last week, discussed the efforts by General Electric (GE: NYSE...

PRESS RELEASES

Array Technologies’ DuraTrack HZ v3 Continues to (R)evolutionize at SPI

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) prepares to showcase its recently launched tracking syst...

Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

The Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University recently completed a proj...

Early Bird Registration Deadline for GRC Annual Meeting is This Week

The deadline for early-bird rates for registration for the biggest annual geothermal ev...

Redesigned HydroWorld.com Video Gallery

Hydropower news and information, and interesting promotional announcements are now avai...

FEATURED BLOGS

Transitioning to Net-Zero Living

Judith and Jeffrey adore living in Belfast, Maine – a quaint harbor town of Belfast, Maine. They previously res...

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles in Australia

In order to avoid increased congestion, further greenhouse warming and lessen Australia’s reliance on imported ...

The Coming Multi-trillion Dollar Energy Investment Drive

In coming years, a multi-trillion dollar low-emission energy investment drive will get underway. Three catalysts wil...

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a concise statement that grabs attention and communicates value, ideally leading to a next step...

FINANCIAL NEWS

A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

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

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Solar Power International 2015

Solar Power International, ranked as the largest solar trade show in Nor...

International Energy and Sustainability Conference 2015

The fourth International Energy and Sustainability Conference will be he...

Intersolar India 2015

Exhibition and Conference: November 18-20, 2015 Intersolar India 2015 I...

COMPANY BLOGS

Persistent Or Pesty?

There’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pain in t...

Obama’s Clean Power Plan A Good First Step

On Aug. 3, President Obama unveiled the final version of his eagerly ant...

Come check out Lumos at Solar Power International 2015!

The Lumos 2015 trade shows started off with a bang at Dwell on Design. W...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS