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Forget owning a solar panel, buy a stake in one instead

Posting in Cities

Without the right roofing, if you rent, or if you can't afford the initial investment to acquire solar panels for your home, how do you get in on the clean energy game?

The solution could be community-driven solar panel leasing, which is beginning to take off in the United States. An increasingly popular alternative to self-installation, rather than placing panels on your own roof, you buy one at a local collective -- and allow a utility or developer to use it for you, and take a slice of the profit in turn.

Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective launched the first community solar facility three years ago. The alternative to self-ownership, which is less threatening to utilities, has proven popular with consumers -- as the CEC now owns 25 farms in four states, serving 2,000 customers.

The average customer buys a three-gigawatt panel for about $9,000, and are able to make about a seven percent return in their first year. However, the firm's customer base ranges from firms splashing out millions to consumers that pay no more than $400.

CEO Paul Spencer said:

"It opens up solar financially to a much broader swath of people, and, of course, you don't have to have a roof that's perfectly sited for solar, because it's not sited there. You don't have to worry about shading or living in New York City, or anything like that."

There are several dozen similar projects currently operating in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy says that roughly 50 megawatts of solar energy is generated each year by shared facilities, but would like to expand this to 5,000 MW by 2020.

Via: Fast Co.Exist

Image credit: Ericsson

— By on September 29, 2013, 8:51 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure