Solar Boom in Trump Country: It’s About Economics and Energy Independence

Read the full story at Inside Climate.

When Brandon Presley was elected to the Mississippi Public Service Commission in 2007, he said, he couldn’t have found a solar farm “with a SWAT team and a search warrant.”

A decade later, Mississippi is one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the United States, according to GTM Research. The state’s public service commission approved several solar projects this summer, and the state is expected to gain more than 700 megawatts of solar capacity over the next five years.

Solar greenhouses generate electricity and grow healthy crops

Read the full story in Science Daily.

The first crops of tomatoes and cucumbers grown inside electricity-generating solar greenhouses were as healthy as those raised in conventional greenhouses, signaling that “smart” greenhouses hold great promise for dual-use farming and renewable electricity production.

“We have demonstrated that ‘smart greenhouses’ can capture solar energy for electricity without reducing plant growth, which is pretty exciting,” said Michael Loik, professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author on a paper that appears in the current issue of the American Geophysical Union’s journal Earth’s Future.

Largest Michigan Solar Park Begins Commercial Operation

Read the full story at Commercial Property Executive.

The 200,000-panel array broke ground in 2016 and is spread across more than 250 acres. The facility is estimated to produce sufficient clean energy to power 11,000 homes.

Obama’s Solar Goal Has Been Met, Trump’s Energy Department Brags

Read the full story at Bloomberg News.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that former President Barack Obama’s goal of slashing the cost of solar power has been achieved early, taking credit for milestone even though the new administration is skeptical of renewable power.

Here Comes the Sun: A State Policy Handbook for Distributed Solar Energy

Download the document.

The rapidly transforming energy sector presents a host of opportunities, such as increased resilience, cleaner energy technologies, a more efficient and reliable energy system, as well as greater flexibility, choice and control for consumers. One of the newer sector technologies driving this transformation is distributed generation, with distributed solar energy leading the way.

States have played a significant role in this energy revolution by creating policies, incentives and regulations that have transformed the solar and power markets. These efforts have been motivated by a range of factors, including economic development, job creation, improved air quality, sustainability goals, economic development, energy diversification and resilience to name a few.

Generating power on-site and close to where it is consumed has evolved over the past 20 years, requiring states to explore new regulatory and policy approaches. Most states’ electricity regulatory frameworks were designed with large centrally owned and operated power stations in mind. Adapting the grid and its supporting policies to accommodate consumers’ decisions to generate and use their own power, while sending some power onto the distribution grid, may require significant changes in regulatory and operational approaches.

The technical challenges of integrating consumer-produced power are being overcome by most utilities. Policy and operational approaches, however, can lessen the challenge, lower costs and increase reliability as distributed power gains market share.

This handbook is designed for state legislators, legislative staff, energy officials and others who want to learn about and assess their state’s distributed solar photovoltaic policies. It provides them with the tools to investigate options and practices to leverage the economic and reliability benefits of solar energy while addressing the challenges presented by this localized approach to energy generation. This document covers the many options and innovative approaches that states have implemented or considered when it comes to rate design, incentives, integration, financing, regulation and workforce development. While extensive, this report is by no means comprehensive, and provides readers with several references and resources for a deeper exploration of the topics covered.

This document will assist policymakers and planners that wish to tailor their state’s energy policy to best leverage the opportunities offered by the burgeoning of distributed solar energy.

The Energy 202: Eclipse tests growing power of renewable energy

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

On Monday, Mother Nature, seemingly unprompted, provided a test of one of the more controversial ideas tossed around by the energy and environmental staff installed by President Trump.

Here’s their question: Do recent changes to way power is generated in the United States — namely, more solar and wind, less coal and nuclear — mean the nation’s grid operators will not have enough power plants to meet electricity needs when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining?

Right now, the Energy Department is finalizing an overdue study asking whether the national electric grid can handle the lost of so-called “baseload” power plantas older coal and nuclear facilities are priced out of the electricity market by cheaper renewables.

“As the utility sector prepares for the short-term impact of a solar eclipse, a much larger problem looms for solar advocates — the diminishing value of intermittent solar as a reliable source of electricity,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and a member of Trump’s transition team for energy.

The grid reliability study has been delayed since June, though Shaylyn Hynes, a press officer at the Energy Department, told me it will be published “soon.”

But the concern over grid reliability got a real-world test on Monday when the moon cast its shadow across the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina, dampening solar energy generation in the top two states for solar capacity — California and North Carolina.