New businesses may blur the lines between residential and commercial solar power and solar power systems. Companies such as CloudSolar want to make it possible for Americans in apartment buildings, townhouses, and rental homes to reap the benefits of solar energy without physical roof space. Residents would have the option to purchase a solar panel from CloudSolar, which would — in turn — work with solar panel installers to set up solar panels and solar panel mounts in a commercial setting, such as a solar farm.
Purchasing a solar panel — one that would ultimately be erected far away in a commercial setting — would offer consumers at least two benefits. First, the panels would help reduce consumers’ carbon footprint. Just one kilowatt of solar power saves 105 gallons of water, prevents the mining of 150 pounds of coal, and lowers carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 300 pounds each. Second, the panel would act as an investment. CloudSolar Co-Founder Cory Absi estimates that homeowners would earn a minimum of $70 per year.
Even better, the program would take the responsibility off of consumers’ shoulders. Instead, CloudSolar and its commercial partners — whether they happen to be a solar farm or commercial venue renting out roof space or land for solar panels — would tackle every step of the process. In most cases, businesses or individuals installing solar panels must carefully consider their geographic location and their average sun exposure. This helps determine whether it is best for the panels to be on a flat roof or on a wall at a perfect 90 degree angle. At the end of the day, it can be a complicated process.
Businesses like CloudSolar plan to work closely with solar panel installers to take care of the mounting and tracking process, so consumers don’t have to. What’s more, the U.S. is on track to install its one millionth solar project this year; ventures and new companies like this one would help the country meet that goal.