Evaluating Community Solar As a Measure to Promote Equitable Clean Energy Access

Eric O'Shaughnessy, Galen Barbose, Sudha Kannan, Jenny Sumner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Rooftop and community solar are alternative product classes for residential solar in the United States. Community solar, where multiple households buy solar from shared systems, could make solar more accessible by reducing initial costs and removing adoption barriers for renters and multifamily building occupants. Here we test whether community solar has expanded solar access in the United States. On the basis of a sample of 11 states, we find that community solar adopters are about 6.1 times more likely to live in multifamily buildings than rooftop solar adopters, 4.4 times more likely to rent and earn 23% less annual income. We do not find that community solar expands access in terms of race. These differences are driven, roughly evenly, by inherent differences between the two solar products and by policies to promote low-income community solar adoption. The results suggest that alternative solar products can expand solar access and that policy could augment such benefits.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalNature Energy
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-89861


  • community solar
  • demographics
  • low-income
  • rooftop solar
  • solar access


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