First Solar Moves Into Community Solar

First Solar, a 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist that has long been a leader in the utility-scale and commercial solar markets, has now made a big move into the residential solar market.

First Solar and Clean Energy Collective have formed a “strategic partnership to develop and market community solar offerings to residential customers and businesses directly on behalf of client utilities.” Community solar projects are larger than rooftop solar power systems but generally not as big as utility-scale solar power projects. Also called community solar gardens, community members together invest in them and receive the financial rewards. This model is especially pitched at people who rent or live in apartments or other homes where they can’t install rooftop solar panels.

“Through the agreement, the two companies will jointly pursue opportunities in the community solar market to offer an affordable and convenient alternative to rooftop generation,” a First Solar summarized press release stated. By making an investment in Clean Energy Collective, First Solar obtained an equity interest in the company. First Solar CEO Jim Hughes as well as Vice President of Strategic Marketing Marc van Gerven will join the Clean Energy Collective board.

CEC solar farm

“The move is an integral part of First Solar’s distributed generation strategy,” First Solar added.

“Distributed generation in the form of community solar expands the addressable market dramatically beyond the traditional residential or commercial sectors, and CEC has led the way in making that happen,” said Jim Hughes, First Solar’s CEO. “This deal is a natural fit that leverages CEC’s residential experience on the ground with First Solar’s expertise in utility-scale generation and panel technology. This innovative and cost-competitive approach will further establish solar, and specifically community solar, as a critical part of the global energy mix for all markets.”

“Community solar is affecting a major shift in the broader solar industry,” said Paul Spencer, Founder and CEO of Clean Energy Collective. “Joining forces with First Solar further validates community solar and provides us the opportunity jointly to accelerate this shift with the combined power of our proven model and the economics and efficiency of First Solar as a world-class R&D, manufacturing and construction partner. This collaboration will allow us to accelerate our expansion to new markets and customers, and will provide both customers and our utility partners with the added confidence that CEC and our community solar projects will deliver long-term, scalable energy solutions at the most cost-effective pricing.”

Images: Clean Energy Collective’s 500kW Boulder Cowdery Meadows Solar Array, Boulder, Colo.; Clean Energy Collective’s 144 kW Putney Community Solar Array, Putney, Vt.

Originally published on Sustainnovate.

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