Solar power is becoming more economically viable as technology advances. With higher efficiencies and higher-than-ever oil prices, solar panels are finally becoming a competitive way to harness energy. However, one big problem still remains. Where exactly do we develop solar energy at the utilities-scale? While solar farms are being constructed all over the world, they can take up thousands of acres each to produce the same energy (or less) as a coal, diesel or natural gas power plant built on just a few acres of land. To resolve this issue, companies are trading in the solar farm for the roofs of buildings in pursuit of a distributed solution to solar power.
SolarCity has been making headlines since its establishment in 2006 for a unique business model. The company offers convenient solutions to homeowners, businesses and government, providing solar power system design, financing, installation and monitoring services from a single source. The company’s SolarLease and solar Power Purchase Agreements offer the advantage of no upfront costs and the opportunity to over time feed electricity back into the grid at a profit. Essentially the company is helping solar purchasers turn their homes or businesses into a small piece of a solar farm. The more people in a city that join in, the bigger the distributed solar network becomes.
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NRG Energy has teamed with Prologis and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to develop the largest distributed solar roof project in the world. Securing a massive loan guarantee of $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy, the joint-venture will see the installation of 733 megawatts of distributed solar power on home and business rooftops across the U.S.
"NRG believes rooftop solar is a smart choice for industrial, commercial and residential property owners in markets around the country, and this program provides the commercial scale that will bring the benefits of solar power to customers across the country," says Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar, NRG's solar subsidiary. "This program will nearly double the amount of grid-connected solar online in the United States today and make another positive contribution to cleaner air and a healthy environment."
Distributed solar energy offers the benefit of conserving land and using the power of community to develop renewable energy. Solar farms may soon be a thing of the past as we look to cover our buildings in energy generating solar panels.