Love solar power but got no rooftop? “Shared solar” is coming for you.

Architectural sketch of a shared solar project at Jefferson Park, in Seattle's Beacon Hill. (Stephanie Bower, via Seattle City Light)

Architectural sketch of a shared solar project at Jefferson Park, in Seattle’s Beacon Hill. (Stephanie Bower, via Seattle City Light)

To date, solar power has mostly been available to utilities (as big power plants) or individual home and business owners (as rooftop panels).

Left out has been … well, everyone else, those of us who are not utility executives and do not have the money, wherewithal, or suitable rooftops to install solar ourselves. That’s a lot of people who love solar power but have no way to get directly involved in it.

Happily, that situation is rapidly changing, thanks to the growth of shared solar. Shared solar refers to small-scale solar installations that multiple individuals co-own, or that divide their power output among multiple “subscribed” individuals. It’s a way for all those non-rooftop folks to directly support clean energy, while also supporting local jobs and economic development.

Here’s how shared solar fits into the larger energy picture, how it works, its benefits and drawbacks, and its future potential.

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