Watch: Flyover footage of a 6.5 MW community solar project in Maine

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Syncarpha Capital, a solar developer, owner, and operator of community solar projects, said its 6.5 MW project in Maine has achieved commercial operations. The solar array, located near the state’s capital of Augusta, is expected to generate electricity equivalent to the demand of 1,050 Maine residents.

The system was built on land purchased by Syncarpha’s partner Acadia Energy on roadside land owned by the Maine Department of Transportation. About 10 acres of the 30-acre purchase was donated to the Sportsman Alliance of Maine.

Central Maine Power customers are able to subscribe to local community solar projects with Syncarpha with no upfront cost. The company said the program saves customers 15% on electricity while supporting Maine’s renewable energy transition.

“This has been a great project for our team to be a part of and we have truly enjoyed our work in the City of Augusta,” said Michael Atkinson, director of development at Syncarpha Capital. “It is always a great feeling for us to see residents and the environment benefit from the transformation of unused space. We are fortunate to have partnered with Acadia Energy and are happy to be a part of helping Maine reach its clean energy goal of being 100% renewable and look forward to seeing more community solar throughout the state.”

Watch a flyover video of the project here:

 

National community solar efforts

Earlier this year, the National Community Solar Partnership, a Department of Energy (DOE) program, set an ambitious goal of enabling enough community solar projects to power the equivalent of 5 million households, and achieve $1 billion in combined energy bill savings. This goal aligns with the DOE’s greater target of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and places a focus on ensuring that American citizens can meaningfully access the benefits of the energy transition.

DOE reports that by year’s end 2020, about 3GW of community solar in the US was active, enough to power about 600,000 homes. The community solar model only represents about 8% of the total distributed solar capacity in the nation. This target would entail a jump from 3GW installed capacity to 20GW by 2025.

The community solar market in the United States will add at least 7 GWdc in existing markets over the next five years, according to a recent report by Wood Mackenzie and the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA).

“There continue to be significant tailwinds for the community solar industry as legislators in existing and new states look to community solar as a way to achieve energy policy goals,” said Jeff Cramer, CEO of CCSA. “The numbers released by Wood Mackenzie represent a conservative forecast of what’s in the pipeline for the next few years. We call on all federal and state policymakers to help remove the barriers and incentivize deployment of community solar to cut energy costs and give more people access to these programs.”

Report findings also highlighted that community solar-plus-storage can provide grid flexibility, but regulatory models do not currently recognize how these projects can manage load.

“As community solar becomes an increasing share of non-residential projects, developers are contending with high grid upgrade costs to manage this new load on the distribution end of the grid. Community solar-plus-storage could help manage this load and provide grid flexibility, but so far, its scope is limited to a few states, and current rules do not necessarily value storage for its grid resilience capabilities,” said Goldstein.

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