How does distributed solar energy generation work?

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How does distributed solar energy generation work?

February 18, 2020

Our energy network is dominated by very large power plants that generate tremendous amount of electricity, typically powered by fossil fuels or occasionally nuclear. These large plants are a necessary component of the grid as it exists today but have a number of draw-backs. They are often located far from the end-consumer, relying complex and expensive transmission networks which also have meaningful environmental impacts.

A growing alternative to the utility-scale power plant is distributed energy generation. Solar power is one high-profile example. Here’s how it works, and its role in the future of energy. 

What Is Distributed Generation? 

Distributed generation refers to smaller-scale energy generation, typically located closer to where the energy it generates is actually consumed.  It bypasses high voltage transmission networks and connects energy supply directly into the local grid.  

How Does Distributed Generation Help the Grid? 

Distributed generation has a number of benefits.  One is that it reduces the amount of energy lost as it travels long distances, often hundreds of miles, from generation to the end consumer.  These efficiency benefits reduce our collective need for additional energy sources. 

A second important benefit is that distributed generation promotes grid resiliency. In plain terms, major blackouts become less likely because there are more sources of power and fewer single points of failure. Because DG systems are simpler and closer, there is just less to go wrong overall.  

Finally, DG often brings environmental benefits as well.  Often clean, renewable sources of energy are chosen for local generation in part because local communities would not accept the local pollution that fossil fuel energy plants would generate.  

What Are Some Examples of Distributed Generation? 

Common examples include: 

    • Solar arrays. A solar array of panels can power one community or several through community solar farms. 

    • Wind turbines.Small wind turbines may offset some or all energy use in residential areas, farms, schools, businesses, and public places. 

    • Biomass generators: Biomass or waste combustion, and the use of biomass-fired fuel cells, can convert materials into energy instead of letting them go to waste. 

    • Electric vehicle chargers. A car powered by its owner is an example of distributed energy, too! 

Note:
Some relevant technologies, notably including biomass combustion, need
large amounts of water for steam production and for cooling, and might
have 
other environmental drawbacks. 

Community Solar: A Great Distributed Energy Option 

As more people embrace community solar, utility plants dependent on coal or other nonrenewables are replaced—and emissions are reduced. 

Learn more about community solar and how it works. Ready to start? It’s easy to sign up, contribute to a cleaner future, and start receiving your credits.

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Have comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you. 

Support a green tomorrow with community solar

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Making a dent in one’s carbon footprint feels daunting. One impactful way to take action is also among the easiest, Community Solar. Also known as “solar farms” or “solar gardens”, community solar allows residential users of electricity to support green energy. Renters and homeowners alike are eligible and there is no up-front equipment to buy and install. Subscribing to Community Solar requires about five minutes of effort to complete.

Growing awareness of global climate change has caused many to wonder how they can reduce their carbon footprint and participate in the change required to reduce the negative effects of a warming planet. The available options often don’t seem meaningful or are so difficult or expensive as to not seem feasible.

One impactful option is also among the easiest, Community Solar. Also known as “solar farms” or “solar gardens”, community solar allows residential users of electricity to support green energy. Because it’s a subscription, having an impact is available to almost everyone. Renters and homeowners alike are eligible and there is no up-front equipment to buy and install. A simple application process is all it takes.

How Big of an Impact Does It Have?

Making a dent in one’s carbon footprint feels daunting. So much is built into our daily lives and reductions feel like big changes to how one lives their life. Turning off lights and eating less meat is virtuous, but doesn’t feel like it moves the dial. Electricity usage is a significant source of household emissions, estimated at 15% or more. That’s a lot to take out in one quick decision. It’s the equivalent of taking a car off the road for a year!

How Does It Work?

Available to most residential users of electricity, subscribing to Community Solar requires about five minutes of effort to complete. Most farms, including those represented by Ampion, require a current utility bill and payment information.

  • Based upon historical energy usage, subscribers are given a share of the farm. The intent is to offset accurately a full year of electricity usage.
  • Once the farm is up and running, subscribers receive credits for their share of the energy produced by the site and in so doing, reduce the amount of fossil fuel generated electricity that is required.
  • Those credits appear on the subscribers utility bill, reducing the overall amount. Sometimes utility bills are zero balance.
  • Separately, Ampion invoices for those credits, typically at a 10% discount from their value. The benefit is enabled by state incentives support the growth of Community Solar as an alternative.

Thanks for reading our post.

Have comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you. 

How does community solar work?

How does community solar work
Homes and offices

Powering Our Homes & Offices

How does community solar work?

January 3, 2020

Community solar farms are providing people with a new way to benefit from renewable energy. By subscribing to a community solar farm you earn credits for the solar power that the project generates. These “farms” make it possible for renters, condo owners, and homeowners, who, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on their roofs or property. Their participation often reduces their annual electricity costs in the process.

People are interested in alternative energy for a variety of social, environmental, and financial reasons. But not everyone interested in solar power can generate their own electricity with photovoltaic panels on their home’s roof or property. Community solar farms are providing a new option.

What is Community Solar?

In a nutshell, community solar farms are projects where community members can become subscribers who earn credits for the solar power that the project generates. These “farms” make it possible for renters, condo owners, and homeowners, who, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on their roofs or property. Their participation often reduces their annual electricity costs in the process.

How Does it Work?

  • You sign up to join a community solar farm in your area.
  • Ampion looks at your electricity use. Using this information, we assign you a share of the power generated by your local farm which results in credits on your utility bill.
  • The solar farm produces energy that is delivered to the grid
  • You receive your monthly utility bill that includes your solar energy credits. Those credits are deducted from what you owe your electric company.
  • The operator of the solar farm, in our case Ampion, bills you separately for the solar energy credits. These credits are typically billed at a discount, often 10% off. 

How You Save Money

  • We send you a bill that shows you your solar credits. Those credits are typically priced at 90% of their value (a 10% discount). The amount is set by the contract you sign and does not change over time.
  • Because we base the size of your share based on your twelve-month electricity usage, you can expect to save approximately 10% on your electricity bills when viewed on a annual basis. Variation in the output of the farm or changes in your usage may cause your actual savings to fluctuate modestly
  • Contracts are typically one or five years, but you can cancel with typically a 90-day notice at no cost to you.
  • Because community solar is supported by State programs, strong consumer protections are included in the contracts. For example, there are not teaser rates to worry about.
  • As long as you participate in the project, you’ll get monthly solar energy credits from your share of the community’s solar energy production.
  • You don’t have to switch your electric utility and if you move, you may be able to take your subscription with you.

There is no more natural way to lower your carbon footprint without having to break a sweat doing it. We hate dealing with the aftermath of Nor’easters or severe storms that are happening more often. The devastation left afterward disrupts everyone’s lives and wreaks havoc on our municipal services, utility services, and local business. Community solar farms can’t eliminate the inconveniences of weather catastrophes. However, they may lessen the impact and help cities and towns that have them recover faster.

Thanks for reading our post.

Have comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you.