The Solar Value Project represents leading energy thinkers and do-ers, 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 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, provided here as Shared Solar Solutions remain timely, but this on the website, we expand our view, exploring new questions about local solar plus storage and solar grid integration. Recent content reflects work on the Solar-Plus for Electric Co-ops project initiated under the U.S. DOE Solar Energy Innovation Network and work for National Community Solar Partnership, as well for Cliburn and Associates' utility and community-based clients nationwide. Follow our Blog for new content or simply join the conversation.
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 and 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 manages this site, adding new work from the Solar Plus for Electric Co-ops project, the Community Solar Partnership, and more.
Presents at National Solar Conference
The National Solar Conference, produced by the American Solar Energy Society took place in Boulder, CO, August 3-6, 2021. A hybrid live and on-line event, it features Jill Cliburn, discussing how the SPECs streamlined economic modeling tool supports solar-plus development in the rural U.S. Slides are available here.
CSVP SOLUTIONS are now under SHARED SOLAR
The Community Solar Value Project website is now also searchable as the Solar Value Project. As we update the website, we have introduced a Shared Solar tab, where you will find all relevant content from the CSVP Solutions pages. IF you find a link for Solutions that does not work, please look under the Shared Solar tab. We appreciate your patience during the update.
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
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 the 2020 update of PPA pricing data and pricing data on hybrid, solar-plus-storage projects. The SPECs project, which focuses on the local utility-side solar-plus-storage market segment has challenged Berkeley Labs to spotlight data and intelligence for this market sector, which falls between the commercial scale (up to 5 MW) and the typical utility scale (currently dominated projects well over 20 MW.) For example, the team led by Mark Bolinger provided SPECs with an informal snap-shot of hybrid project pricing on the smaller end of the utility scale. Berkeley Lab also just released a report in August 2021 on hybrid project market development. Another annually awaited source, from Lazard, released its 2020 market survey, 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 Fall: a kick-off meeting November 18 for public power utilities to launch new efforts with the National Community Solar Partnership. Dozens of utility program managers shared insights regarding the kinds of support they would find useful to move community solar forward in different markets and 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 2015-18. 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 a community solar project or program right now, we're sure you will find our new Blog on Community Solar Resources useful right "out of the box."
Cliburn Presents at National Community Solar Virtual Conference
As their first round of technical assistance funding culminated, Cliburn joined community solar innovators and advocates from around the country for a virtual conference of the National Community Solar Partnership. Sponsored by the U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program, NCSP welcomes participants to share best practices about policies, programs and projects nationwide. As a TA consultant to the NCSP, Cliburn assisted the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources in work with stakeholders toward a low/moderate income carve-out for their existing community solar program. Cliburn's conference presentation spotlights program innovations and successful public engagement in this time of Covid.