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What is Rooftop Community Solar?

Photograph of rooftop solar panels with text overlay 'What is Rooftop Community Solar?"

Rooftop community solar is an innovative approach to solar energy that leverages the collective power of groups to generate and share renewable energy. Unlike traditional residential solar systems, which are installed and used by individual households, community solar projects provide a shared solar array that multiple participants can access. This model not only makes solar energy more accessible and affordable, but it also promotes community involvement and environmental responsibility. Whether you live in an apartment, have a shaded roof, or simply can’t afford the upfront costs of a personal solar installation, rooftop community solar offers a flexible solution to harness the benefits of clean energy. In this resource, we will explore the ins and outs of rooftop community solar and its benefits.

What is Rooftop Community Solar?

The U.S. Department of Energy defines community solar as any solar project or purchasing program, within a geographic area, in which the benefits flow to multiple customers such as individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and other groups. It is a way for individuals and communities to access solar energy without the costs associated with installing and maintaining their own rooftop solar panels. This can be especially beneficial for those who may not have suitable rooftops or live in rented properties.

One type of community solar project is known as rooftop community solar. This involves installing solar panels on the rooftops of a building, such as a school, church, or commercial property. The electricity generated by these panels is then shared among multiple participants within the same community.

How Does Rooftop Community Solar Work?

Rooftop community solar works through a process called virtual net metering. This allows participants to receive credit for their portion of the electricity generated by the solar panels on the rooftop, which is then deducted from their utility bill. Essentially, participants purchase a share of the solar system (typically in the form of a monthly subscription fee) and receive credits on their utility bill for the energy produced by that share.

What is the Difference Between Rooftop Community Solar and Community Solar?

With community solar, customers benefit from energy generated by solar panels at an off-site array. However, with rooftop community solar, the solar panels are installed on the rooftops of various buildings within a community. Like ground-mounted community solar projects, rooftop community solar operates by offering subscriptions or investment opportunities to members of the local community, who then receive credits on their electric bill for the energy that is produced and sold to the local utility.

Essentially, the only difference between rooftop community solar and community solar is that instead of producing solar power locally at your home or business, community solar production takes place at the solar farm itself, where it sends the energy back to the grid, offsetting the proportional amount of fossil fuel consumption.

What are the Benefits of Rooftop Community Solar?

Rooftop community solar not only makes use of available space more efficiently but also encourages community engagement by directly involving residents and businesses in the clean energy transition.

Economic Benefits of Rooftop Community Solar

Rooftop community solar can offer significant economic advantages to participants. By subscribing or investing in a community solar project, individuals and businesses can often reduce their electricity bills through credits received for the energy generated by the solar panels. This is especially beneficial in areas with high electricity rates. Additionally, these projects can create local jobs in the renewable energy sector, from installation and maintenance to project management, thereby boosting the local economy.

Environmental Benefits of Rooftop Community Solar

One of the foremost benefits of rooftop community solar farms is its positive impact on the environment. By harnessing solar energy, communities can significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, which are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The solar installations help decrease the overall carbon footprint of the community, promoting cleaner air and contributing to global efforts to combat climate change. Moreover, using available rooftop space minimizes land use and preserves natural habitats, making it an environmentally conscious choice.

Social and Community Benefits of Rooftop Community Solar

Rooftop community solar programs can foster a sense of community by bringing residents and businesses together in a collective effort towards sustainability and decarbonization. Such projects often raise awareness about renewable energy and can inspire further environmental initiatives. They also democratize access to clean energy, allowing those who might not have the resources to install their own solar panels—such as renters or homeowners with unsuitable roofs—to participate and benefit equally. This inclusive approach strengthens community ties and promotes a shared responsibility for environmental stewardship.

How to Lease Rooftops for Community Solar Farms

Property owners can partner with a solar developer or a community solar organization to lease their rooftops for solar panels and monetize solar energy. Leasing rooftops for community solar farms involves several steps to ensure the project is feasible and beneficial for both the property owner and the community. First, it is essential for property owners to understand the legal and contractual obligations involved in leasing their rooftops. Engaging with legal counsel experienced in renewable energy projects can help ensure that the leasing agreement is fair and comprehensive.

The solar company typically handles the technical aspects of the installation, including system design, permitting, and construction, as well as assessing the suitability of the roof for solar installations. Property owners lease their rooftops in exchange for lease payments or a percentage of the energy savings generated by the solar panels. This arrangement can provide a steady income stream or reduce energy costs for property owners while simultaneously contributing to the community’s clean energy goals.

By leasing rooftops for community solar farms, property owners play a crucial role in advancing renewable energy adoption. This not only benefits their financial standing but also supports broader community efforts to transition to sustainable energy sources. Engaging in rooftop community solar projects is a tangible way for individuals and businesses to contribute to environmental conservation and community resilience.

To connect with rooftop solar developers, property owners can list their land or rooftops for lease on LandGate's marketplace, which is used by a variety of solar developers actively planning new projects. Government property owners, private property owners, corporations with large rooftops, and more can list for free on LandGate. Listing is completely free, with no obligations to accept any offers:


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