Overcoming Barriers to Solar+Storage in Critical Facilities Serving Low-Income Communities: A Survey of Service Providers

Abbe Ramanan, Marriele Mango | Clean Energy States Alliance & Clean Energy Group

Critical facilities serving low-income communities could benefit greatly from the cost savings and energy resilience of solar combined with energy storage. However, this sector faces numerous barriers to solar+storage deployment, and market penetration remains low.

As part of CESA’s Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project, Clean Energy Group conducted a survey of municipalities, community organizations, affordable housing developers, and technical service providers who have been involved in developing solar+storage projects. This report summarizes the results of the survey and suggests actions to bring the benefits of solar+storage to the people who need it most.

Although the report overviews responses from organizations across multiple sectors, focus is given to comparing the barriers to solar+storage development experienced by affordable housing developers and community service providers. Based on the results of the survey, report authors make five key recommendations:

  1. Increase Awareness of Battery Storage: Freely available educational materials can be valuable in addressing the resilient power learning curve faced by organizations when considering backup power options.
  2. Create Opportunities for Capacity Building: Programs that support internal capacity building can uplift community organizations struggling to develop resilient power resources due to limited staff time and resources.
  3. Provide Technical Assistance Support: Upfront technical assistance from a trusted third-party can provide a valuable first step in the resilient power process by framing the economic and resiliency potential of a solar+storage project.
  4. Develop Innovative Incentive and Finance Options: Incentive programs that reduce upfront costs and monetize the grid services that batteries provide can support project finance by improving system economics.
  5. Establish a Monetary Value for Resilience: Assigning a monetary value to resilience can improve the economic calculus for organizations weighing the economic benefits of solar+storage.

This report builds on the findings of a January 2021 report, Overcoming Barriers to Solar and Storage in Affordable Housing, which explores market barriers and opportunities for expanding solar+storage the affordable housing sector.

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Date: April 21, 2021
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