Category Archives: Community-Scale / Utility-Scale Solar

Plot Brewing To Blanket US In Solar Panels + Pollinator-Friendly Plants

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

It started as a trickle and now the floodgates are open. Solar arrays that once sat on barren ground are now festooned with plants that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Even the US Energy Department is getting into the act. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four newly minted solar power plants that have built-in benefits for pollinators, too. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Power, plants: Seed mixes and ag innovation for PV solar, Solar Builder article by Rob DavisDirector of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts farmers and other landowners will lease 2-3 million acres of land for ground-mounted solar arrays by 2030, a 10-fold increase from 2020. This rapid bloom in leasing land to produce solar energy isn’t just a lifeline for farmers looking to stabilize on-farm income, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create habitat at scale to help species critical to agriculture and ecosystem health. Climate change and loss of habitat pose significant threats to honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. A recent global analysis found that 40 percent of pollinator species may be at risk of extinction in the coming years. 

MULTI-GIGAWATT PARTNERSHIP

Engie and Hannon Armstrong Form Multi-Gigawatt US Renewables Partnership, Greentech Media The portfolio will stretch across five states and encompass both wind and solar projects. Most of the power the Engie-Hannon portfolio produces will be sold to companies looking to increase their renewable electricity, such as T-Mobile and Amazon. 

TRI-STATE NEWS 

  • A power switch in Colorado, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
    At the stroke of midnight, Colorado’s Delta-Montrose Electric Association officially became independent of Tri-State Generation and Transmission. The electrical cooperative in west-central Colorado is at least $26 million poorer. That was the cost of getting out of its all-requirements for wholesale supplies from Tri-State 20 years early. But Delta-Montrose expects to be richer in coming years as local resources, particularly photovoltaic solar, get developed with the assistance of the new wholesale provider Guzman Energy.
  • Tri-State: Moving a cooperative power provider from coal to clean energy, by Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative. This article summarizes the key developments over the last few years that led Tri-State to begin a transition away from its reliance on coal, and was first published as a contribution to Energy-Democracy.net

BANK OF AMERICA  

Duke Energy, Bank of America partner on Triad solar farm, Winston Salem Journal
Monday’s joint announcement marks a step toward achieving Bank of America’s goal of “being carbon neutral and utilizing 100% renewable electricity,” bank executive Andrew Plepler said in a written statement. 

MORE ON WHO’S BEHIND ANTI-NET-METERING FERC PETITION

AUSTRALIA

Solar project at landfill still moving forward

By Melanie Wilkinson, Managing Editor, York News-Times

YORK – The project that will result in a solar energy facility on York’s landfill property remains underway. Craig Vincent from the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) recently met with city officials and the council to provide an update on the progress.

It is being recommended, Vincent said, that the project be awarded to GRNE Solar, which is headquartered in Lincoln. Vincent said the company’s proposal meets all requirements and they have previous solar installation experience. Vincent said NPPPD is currently doing another such project with them in northeast Nebraska. Read more here.

Photo: Kearney Solar Farm. The panels for York’s solar project will be mounted on a tracker designed racking system similar to Kearney’s.

NPPD’s Community Solar

Learn more about GRNE Solar here.

Nelnet Expands Commitment to Renewable Energy with Launch of Community Solar Subscriber Acquisition and Management Services

Nelnet News Release, PR Newswire

LINCOLN, Neb., June 10, 2020 — Nelnet today introduced a new business line, Nelnet Renewable Energy, offering community solar developers comprehensive and scalable subscriber acquisition, management, and support services. The company also launched a new consumer website, NelnetEnergy.com, aimed at promoting renewable energy and supporting its community solar subscriber acquisition efforts. Nelnet Renewable Energy is committed to expanding renewable energy use by helping solar developers find subscribers for their community solar projects – homeowners, renters, and businesses who are looking for accessible and affordable solar energy.  Read more here. 

Nelnet Renewable Energy is a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Dual-use solar farms welcome nature back to the land

By Jesse Klein, GreenBiz

Surrounding Clif Bar’s 300,000-foot bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho is a five-acre solar array. Instead of gray stones, brown dirt or a green so neon it looks fake, the panels are surrounded by yellows, pinks and lush natural hazels. The reflective solar panels are nestled in a bed of native flowering plants that support pollinators, conserve water and store carbon in the healthy topsoil. This is the emerging model for ground-mounted solar, one that welcomes nature back to the land. Read more here.

Photo by Prairie Restorations showing a 40-kilowatt pollinator-friendly community solar farm in Duluth, Minnesota.

Previously Posted: Solar and pollinators: a photo essay, PV Magazine
All the solar installations shown in this photo essay by Rob Davis of Fresh Energy have a mix of flowering species in sufficient diversity, or covering a sufficient portion of the project, to meet pollinator-friendly standards created by entomologists.

BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS WITH TRACKING

ROOFTOP SOLAR PERMITTING STUDY

US rooftop solar permitting process takes less time, but depends on state – study, Renewables Now. Berkeley Lab found that 50 days is the typical solar permit duration at the median. But there were significant differences, with half of the total cases studied taking less than 27 days or more than 96 days.

SITING RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS – NYSERDA

NYSERDA moves to launch program targeting brownfields and other less desirable sites for renewables, Utility Dive

CLEAN ENERGY & ECONOMIC RECOVERY

IRS SAFE HARBOR EXTENSION 

IRS Extends Construction Safe Harbor For Renewable Energy Projects, The National Law Review

CONSUMER-OWNED RENEWABLE ENERGY 

The U.K. will soon be home to its first consumer-owned wind farm, CNBC

PENN STATE NEWS

Renewable energy, sustainability systems program addresses growing need
Penn State’s redesigned renewable energy and sustainability systems program, offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus and taught by faculty from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, aims to meet the needs of professionals in business and government. The graduate-level program consists of a 33-credit master of professional studies degree and two 12-credit graduate certificates in solar energy or sustainability management and policy.

OFFSHORE WIND DEVELOPMENT

NEBRASKA JOBS

TRADE ASSOCIATIONS’ JOBS PORTALS

Omaha utility’s solar plan collides with suburban development aspirations

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Sarpy County board of commissioners on Tuesday adopted new zoning language that would complicate, and possibly undo, plans by the Omaha Public Power District to develop a solar farm and gas-fired power plant in the fast-growing suburban county. Along with the restraints on solar arrays, the commissioners approved a moratorium on construction of fossil-fueled power plants through Oct. 31. Although the new regulations likely would prohibit the utility from proceeding with its current plan, there probably is a viable alternative, according to Stephen Bruckner, general counsel for the Omaha Public Power District. Read more here.

About Karen Uhlenhuth


Karen spent most of her career reporting for the Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City. Karen covers Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

More Articles by Karen Uhlenhuth

Photo Credit: Lincoln Electric System

Operating expenses are down and useful lifespans are up on utility-scale solar projects

By Kelly Pickerel, Solar Power World

The expected useful life of utility-scale solar PV projects has increased over time, while anticipated operating expenditures (OpEx) have decreased, according to new research from Berkeley Lab. Findings are detailed in a new paper: “Benchmarking Utility-Scale PV Operational Expenses and Project Lifetimes: Results from a Survey of U.S. Solar Industry Professionals.”

Useful life and OpEx are important (but sometimes overlooked) drivers of the levelized cost and profitability of utility-scale PV plants. This paper draws on a survey of U.S. solar industry professionals and other sources to clarify trends in these cost factors. Key findings include: Continue reading here.

TAX CREDITS EXTENSION

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING 

Previously Posted Resource On Virtual PPAs
Introduction to the Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, Rocky Mountain Institute Report
This report serves as an introduction to the virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA)—its place in the off-site renewable energy procurement market, how the VPPA works, and why VPPAs have been a popular instrument in the United States thus far. 

RECYCLING MARKET REPORT

Solar Panel Recycling Market, Transparency Market Research
An increased number of end-of-life solar panels are creating a demand for recycling activities in the U.S. Moreover, analysts of Transparency Market Research (TMR) opine that the U.S. is anticipated to account for the highest number of end-of-life solar panels in the upcoming decades after China. Hence, companies in the solar panel recycling market are focusing on value-grab opportunities in the U.S. As such, the market is estimated to reach a value of ~US$ 600 Mn by the end of 2027.

Power, plants: Seed mixes and ag innovation for PV solar

By Rob Davis, Director, Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy

Driven by rapidly declining costs and 100 percent clean energy commitments from corporations and municipalities, demand for large-scale solar energy development is surging. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts farmers and other landowners will lease 2-3 million acres of land for ground-mounted solar arrays by 2030, a 10-fold increase from 2020.

This rapid bloom in leasing land to produce solar energy isn’t just a lifeline for farmers looking to stabilize on-farm income, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create habitat at scale to help species critical to agriculture and ecosystem health. Climate change and loss of habitat pose significant threats to honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. A recent global analysis found that 40 percent of pollinator species may be at risk of extinction in the coming years. Continue reading here,

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy: ENGIE project in Vermont

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

AWEA INTO THE WIND BLOG POSTS

American wind power supports COVID-19 relief efforts in communities across the country
Our society and economy continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 presents. Ensuring the wind energy workforce’s safety and protecting U.S. wind jobs remains the top priority, and when the economy can safely reopen, wind power stands ready to play a leading role in the recovery. However, communities across the country are struggling right now, and the U.S. wind industry is doing its part to aid in the recovery effort.

Fact check: New Michael Moore-backed documentary full of errors, fundamentally misunderstands electric systemA new Michael Moore-backed documentary has been released that examines the climate crisis and the lack of progress made so far in combating the problem. Unfortunately, and somewhat strangely, the filmmakers chose to focus much of their attention erroneously critiquing a leading climate solution—renewable energy. Let’s set the record straight on where this film gets it wrong. See this article for an in-depth look at the film’s problematic portrayal of solar power.

FROM WIND EXCHANGE – DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWSLETTER

The wind industry needs a broad range of workers, including turbine engineers, project developers, and supply chain managers, to support growth. Unfortunately, employers report difficulty hiring well-qualified candidates to support this growth, while graduates have also had difficulty finding jobs. Follow these tips from wind energy professionals to help narrow this gap and learn how to breeze into the wind energy workforce.

ROOFTOP WIND

Rooftop Wind Power Might Take off by Using Key Principle of Flight, by Scientific American, EcoWatch

Solar panels perched on the roofs of houses and other buildings are an increasingly common sight in the U.S., but rooftop wind systems have never caught on. Past efforts to scale down the towering turbines that generate wind power to something that might sit on a home have been plagued by too many technical problems to make such devices practical. Now, however, a new design could circumvent those issues by harnessing the same principle that creates lift for airplane wings.

Image: An artist’s rendering of AeroMINES along the edge of a roof and combined with solar arrays. Sandia National Laboratories

GOOGLE

Google Tests Load-Shifting at Data Centers to Capture the Grid’s Peak Clean Energy Hours, Greentech Media. In its quest for 24/7 renewables, Google tries scheduling “non-urgent” computing tasks at times of maximum wind and solar output.

Previously Posted: Google is a member of two regional transmission organizations: Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).

The global corporation is also a member of RE100 and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).

Community solar will open new markets for greater energy production

Opinion written by former U.S. Secretary of Navy John Lehman, PennLive

In late 2004, the 9-11 Commission published its report on the devastating September 11 terrorist attacks. As a member of the 9-11 Commission, I joined my colleagues in urging that America must begin producing its own energy in much greater amounts so that it would not be hostage to the geopolitics of a region fraught with war, repression, and ethnic and religious grievances.

It would have been hypocritical of me while urging this course on my fellow Americans not to practice what I had preached, so I invested in solar energy on my farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Continue reading here.

Referenced in the article: HB 531 would allow the installation of solar projects by multiple residents, farmers or business owners on a single property.

 Additional Recommended Reading 

Wind plants can provide grid services similar to gas, hydro, easing renewables integration: CAISO, Utility Dive

Utility-scale wind plants have the potential to provide grid services that match those of a gas plant or hydroelectric facility, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has found. CAISO, along with Avangrid Renewables, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and General Electric, conducted tests at a wind farm near San Diego last year. The takeaway was that “a wind plant could perform as well — and in some cases even better —​ than a conventional unit,” Clyde Loutan, renewable energy advisor and team lead, told Utility Dive. The study, published Wednesday, could have global implications for grids that are transitioning to renewables, according to the system operator. It’s just a first step, but “we’re very excited about it,” said Anne Gonzales, CAISO senior public information officer.  

As Nebraska Public Power celebrates 50 years, Scottsbluff solar project goes online

By Jerry Purvis, Scottsbluff Star-Herald

It was Nathan Johnson’s last official day as Scottsbluff city manager as he joined city officials and representatives from Nebraska Public Power District to cut the ribbon on the community’s new solar energy facility. NPPD Account Manager Terry Rajewich welcomed the public to the ceremony at the Landers Soccer Complex north of Scottsbluff.

“Partnerships are what we’re about,” Rajewich said. “NPPD is turning 50 this year and Scottsbluff has been with us for the past 46 years. They were the first to express an interest in purchasing more of its power from solar generation.” Continue reading here.

NPPD cutting ribbon on new community solar facility

Nebraska Public Power District News Release


Columbus, Neb. – 
The time has come to celebrate the launch of a new community solar farm with the official ribbon cutting for the Scottsbluff II project. The new addition to the Scottsbluff community’s renewable energy portfolio is set to go live on March 1, with the ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. March 2. “We are very excited to cut the ribbon and celebrate the official launch of Scottsbluff II,” says Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “The Scottsbluff II project is a great partnership between the city of Scottsbluff – NPPD and N-Solar and these combined efforts are what made this project a reality.” The ceremony is set to take place in the Landers Memorial Soccer Complex parking lot at 4205 5th Avenue just outside the new solar facility. Continue reading here.

OPPD News

Structure rebuild completed in time for potential flooding, The Wire

Additional Recommended Reading