What Does the Future Hold for Solar Energy Farms?

Is anyone developing solar energy farms? I live next to a city with its own municipal utility for electricity and I have a south-facing hillside that could be used for a solar energy source. I have read about energy development in Germany where individuals work with governmental agencies to create energy farms. –Scott B, Ashland, OR

Many solar companies have installed solar in large areas from brownfields to deserts to parking lots. On Oct. 26, 2006, Federal, state and local officials gathered to celebrate the completion of the Brockton Brightfield, a 425-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system located on an 3.7 acre environmentally remediated brownfield in Brockton, Massachusetts. This follows a ground-breaking earlier this year of Solargenix’s 64 MW concentrated solar power plant which will be operational in 2007 in Boulder City, Nevada. This solar plant will be the largest solar electric power plant to be built globally in the past 14 years and it will be the third largest solar power plant in the world generating power for more than 150,000 Nevada consumers. In April 2006, WorldWater & Power announced its Liberty Science Center facility in NJ award of a 105 kW “Solar Walkway” that will lead from the bus parking lot to the center’s main entrance where overhead solar panels will serve double-duty as a canopy to protect visitors from the elements while generating electric power from the sun. Both UniSolar (MI) and PowerLight (CA) have installed large photovoltaics systems atop parking lot structures, such as UniSolar’s 540 kW Cal Expo Solarport, a large parking lot solar electric shade structure sponsored by the Sacramento (CA) municipal utility and PowerLight’s 750 kW solar electric carport at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego, whose November 2002 installation is comprised of two contiguous solar arrays, covering a half-mile long parking structure that serves U.S. Navy personnel. In addition to providing shade for parked cars, the system generates the equivalent energy during the day to power over 935 homes. Both ends of the solar market are rapidly growing — residential to larger-scale systems that produce hundreds of kilowatts to multimegawatts. I expect the larger systems will grow faster if Congress extends the solar investment tax credits beyond 2008 to 2016. Because these projects take a longer time to facilitate, from land acquisition, permitting, financing and ordering the materials and equipment — a longer-term tax credit will insure market growth similar to its positive impact on the windfarm development. — Scott Sklar Scott Sklar, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Boards of Directors of the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and the Renewable Energy Policy Project. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using advanced batteries and controls, energy efficiency, fuel cells, heat engines, minigeneration (natural gas), microhydropower, modular biomass, photovoltaics, small wind, and solar thermal (including daylighting, water heating, industrial preheat, building air-conditioning, and electric power generation), and waste heat.
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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