What GM is doing for solar-powered EV charging stations — radically, and single-handedly increasing their number by four, even five-fold, SolarCity will soon be doing for residential rooftop solar in the U.S. via what it’s calling the SolarStrong project.
The California-based solar company recently announced that it plans to work with the U.S. military on a project which could see the installation of 160,000 rooftop residential solar systems on military housing throughout the U.S. in the next few years. According to SolarCity, this would effectively double the total number of residential rooftop PV systems in the U.S.
A key component of the project: U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s announcement of a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a $344 million loan.
As part of the project, SolarCity plans to partner with one of the country’s leading military housing-privatization developers to install, own and operate well over 100,000 rooftop solar installations on as many as 124 military housing developments across 33 U.S. states.
371 MW of rooftop solar
According to SolarCity, the project is expected to create more than $1 billion in solar projects and 371 megawatts of new solar generation capacity.
“Now the solar industry has a debt model that can make distributed generation affordable on a massive scale,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.
The first SolarStrong-eligible project—a coordinated effort between real estate developer Lend Lease and SolarCity—is already underway at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. When completed, that project will provide renewable power to more than 2,000 military family homes.
SolarCity’s announcement is good news for solar and, in particular, rooftop solar, which is the best kind of solar. Rooftop and parking lot carport solar are local, located in areas that have already been environmentally compromised, and they help to democratize energy production, consumption, and distribution.
Not enough to keep up with China
SolarCity’s recent announcement should help keep the U.S. in the rooftop solar race with other countries. Of course, by itself it’s not going to be enough to ensure that the U.S. keeps up with China, which recently announced plans for three gigawatts (GW) of roof-mounted solar power generating capacity by 2015 and 25 GW by 2020.
We’d like to see some other big solar companies and installers making similar announcements. It would be great to see hundreds of thousands of American rooftops, even millions of them — both residential and commercial — get a solar PV makeover, and to also see a high percentage of parking lots across America covered with solar carports and solar-powered EV charging canopies.
Now that SolarCity has got the rooftop part of the equation started, and GM has jump started solar EV charging canopies in the U.S., we need a few more large companies to jump in to help make a rooftop and solar carport American solar PV revolution dream a reality.