6/25/18 – This blog post is written by four students in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program about their summer research work in the solar industry.
The sun’s rays are truly a gift that keeps on giving to our planet. As the most abundant energy resource, the sun is continuously striking the earth with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy. Don’t worry, we did the math for you- that’s more than 10,000X the world’s energy use. Wouldn’t it be great if we could pocket all that energy in order to power our world for the next decade?
The US solar energy industry has clearly come a long way from its beginnings in the 1970’s, with over 56 Gigawatts of capacity now installed. (That’s enough to power 10.7 million homes!) However, there are still many roadblocks and misconceptions on “going solar” that are keeping individuals from participating in this movement. Most notably, nearly half of all households and businesses are unable to host solar arrays on their building’s property or rooftop. Along with this, many individuals do not have sufficient credit in order to get the capital required to make a solar investment. Our team is tackling this problem by providing local, community scale solar power purchasing options to these locked out consumers, regardless of their living situation or credit score.
How can this be done? By four amazingly brilliant MBA students of course!
Community solar enables renters, homeowners, and businesses the option to purchase renewable energy from an off-site solar farm. The energy produced by community solar farms flows through the traditional grid system and is allocated by the utility. Members in the community solar farms receive credits on their electric bill to offset their cost. Community solar farms are an emerging strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by energy production. This strategy provides consumers an easy and cost-effective way to use their purchasing power to buy emissions-free energy. This means that anyone who subscribes gets the financial and social benefit of clean energy without the burden of maintenance, a large initial investment, or risk of losing the right to the energy if they move.
Our team, Community Solar Concepts, has spent the last 6 months researching enterprise-based solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through renewable energy in Northern Colorado. We have spent this summer meeting with industry professionals, surveying the opinions and needs of community members, presenting at local energy events, and developing plans to implement a solar array on the Colorado State University Research Station in Paonia, CO in a partnership with Solar Energy International.
As we wrestle with all the layers involved in the energy market- including contracts, land use, utility interest, and financial models- we hope to develop a viable solution in order to expand the access to renewable energy, while saving customers money on their bills. Although the solar industry has come a long way, it will take innovative solutions to current problems in order to get it to its full potential. Community Solar Concepts hopes to create the bright alternative to the future of energy.
If you are a Colorado resident and would like to take our survey to help us with our research please click here. Thanks!