The Solar Value Project represents leading energy thinkers and doers, ready to make community-scale solar better through strategic design, storage, and load flexibility. This is your place to follow high-value innovations and to review your options, including access to free "how-to" resources and expert consulting support.
This website was first inspired by our work on a multi-year U.S. DOE-funded effort called the Community Solar Value Project. Most CSVP resources remain timely and are provided under the tab for Shared Solar Solutions. Today, we continue to expand our efforts, supporting new projects through the National Community Solar Partnership as well as leading the Solar-Plus for Electric Co-ops project and other work at Cliburn and Associates in solar-plus, resource integration, change management, and policy. Follow our Blog or reach out for more information.
Site Sponsors Cliburn and Associates and Extensible Energy initiated the Community Solar Value Project in 2015, with partners from Olivine and Navigant Consulting (now Guidehouse). We were joined by SMUD other utilities that wanted to "make community solar better." Our path led to ground-breaking work in solar-plus-storage and load flexibility. Today, Cliburn has added new work from the Solar Plus for Electric Co-ops project, the Community Solar Partnership and more.
Announcing: Solar-Plus Web Pages Now Open
As the NREL Solar Energy Innovation Network culminates its Round 2 efforts, our Solar-Plus for Electric Co-ops project has launched a suite of tools on this website.
Also, we are now archiving content from the CSVP Solutions pages under the Shared Solar tab. If you find a stray link for community solar related information that doesn't connect, just head over to the Shared Solar tab!
Virtual Poster Set for North America Smart Energy Week
Despite tragic circumstances that caused cancellation of live events at North America's Smart Energy Week in New Orleans Sept. 20-24, many virtual events are still on the boards. Our poster, A Streamlined Modeling Tool Helps Co-ops Improve Solar-Plus-Storage Procurement, will be posted in the virtual Exhibit Hall. Sneak a peek right here.
Blog: Utilities, Don't Run From Right-Sized Solar
In light of wholesale PPAs in the U.S. averaging less than 3 cents per kWh, the utility solar market is booming with expansive solar possibilities. Today, there is even a strong case to be made for purposely over-building centralized solar resources and dispatching or curtailing them to ease the need for storage in a mostly-renewables world. Yet our work is still focused on local, community-scale solar—sometimes integrated with storage or load management.
For one thing, the locally focused work provides "a market-based laboratory." That is still true—and still rewarding today. Work at the community scale provides solutions that are specific, replicable, and scalable. Many of them can and should be adapted to new settings over and over, and increasingly cost-effectively. Utility culture bends toward centralized systems, but the future is so much more diverse and better than that. I'll tell you why... and how.
News and Resources
SPECs Modeling Tool Introduced at the National Solar Conference
The National Solar Conference, produced by the American Solar Energy Society took place in Boulder, CO, August 3-6, 2021. Jill Cliburn joined an on-site panel to introduce the SPECs streamlined economic modeling tool and to discuss how it supports solar-plus development in the rural U.S. Slides are available here.
Cliburn Expands Associates Roster to Ready for New TA Assignments
If your organization is looking for technical assistance (TA) to expand community access to solar, then stay tuned for news from the National Community Solar Partnership. The NCSP already represents more than 450 member organizations in 43 states. It offers a breadth of technical assistance, and it is growing, with additional TA opportunities expected to be announced this fall. Cliburn and Associates has been a NCSP TA provider and coach to a total of nine projects so far, regarding program design, pricing, policy, marketing strategy, stakeholder engagement and more. Last year, Cliburn presented at a national NCSP conference on her engagement with the State of Rhode Island, as they planned a low/moderate income carve-out for their existing community solar program. Cliburn's presentation spotlighted innovations and successful public engagement in this time of Covid. Looking ahead, we have added some new, outstanding independent associates the Cliburn team roster, including Gilbert Michaud, PhD and Kathryn Swartz, in order to contribute to the growing success of the NCSP. Watch for details here in October!
Updated Trends for Utility Solar-Plus-Storage
The Electricity Markets and Policy Group at Berkeley Lab is a valuable source of information on utility solar and storage growth trends, including its 2020 update on utility solar. The latest report covers the range of large-scale solar developments, and it notes the growth of purchase agreements (PPAs and ESAs) for solar-plus-storage or "hybrid" projects. It was followed closely by another report in August 2021 that looks specifically at hybrid project market development, including solar-plus and other resource-plus projects. The data still skews towards large IPP projects, but the report is a useful resource for planners working at any scale. Another annually awaited source, from Lazard, was also recently updated. It offers a review of 2020 market data, suggesting a price range for community solar on the low end of C&I projects, from $63 to $94/MWH.
Cliburn and Kit Carson Electric Co-op Present at
Peak Load Management Alliance Conference
The Peak Load Management Alliance 43rd National Conference just wrapped up in May 2021, including presentations from Jill Cliburn, Solar Value Project lead, and Luis Reyes of New Mexico's Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC). The pair discussed ways to use battery storage to optimize rising solar and DERs. KCEC is a leader among co-ops, on track to achieve 100% daytime solar this year in its territory in and around Taos, New Mexico. Reyes shared his experience, which led to the co-op's recent procurement of 15 MW of utility-side battery storage at two sites. Those projects will tap multiple value streams, including wholesale coincident demand reduction, but also management of solar over-production and possibly, market needs for ancillary services. Cliburn discussed SPECs project tools as they apply to each of these needs, in addition to addressing the hard-to-monetize value of resilience in a fire-prone region. The Peak Load Management Alliance tuned into SPECs' perspective on the likelihood that, as storage value streams become better understood, a variety of compelling combined use cases will emerge. For example, demand reduction may be achieved by orchestrating solar-plus-storage and also demand response or load flexibility. As high-penetration solar markets emerge nationwide, the KCEC case study promises a real-world peek into the future. A copy of the PLMA presentation is available here.
Shared Solar Solutions for Consumer-Owned Utilities
Jill Cliburn dubbed it the Best Zoom Call of the Season. Dozens of utility solar program managers and planners engaged with technical advisors for the National Community Solar Partnership at a virtual a kick-off meeting for public power utilities. Utility folks discussed the kinds of support they would find useful to move community solar forward in different markets, while facing a range of technical, financial and pricing challenges. For the Solar Value Project, it was a time to listen and learn–but also call to offer Shared Solar Solutions from the work of those who came before. Click here for a new Blog that details some of the most relevant, still-useful resources from our work with public power utilities in over the past six years. We look forward to the NCSP and its new resources, especially to address opportunities that just emerged in the past two to three years. But if you are working on community solar right now, we're sure you will find our Blog on Community Solar Resources useful right "out of the box."