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Published on May 16th, 2012 | by Jake Richardson

8

One Million Homes Can Be Powered by Mid-Atlantic Solar (Today)

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May 16th, 2012 by  

 
DC
The solar power capacity of installations in Mid-Atlantic states has expanded to over one gigawatt, or enough to power up to one million homes when the sun is shining. Solar capacity has doubled in the region for each of the past two years.

Some factors contributing to the expansion are government tax breaks/incentives, lower technology costs, and new financing options. One such option is a power purchase agreement plan where a homeowner can have solar panels and the required accessories installed for no cost, but they agree to lease the systems and buy the power they generate. PPAs have been used with government and business solar installations successfully, so it makes sense they would be offered to homeowners as well.

Still, one gigawatt is a tiny portion of the 186 gigawatt capacity for the whole electric grid systems for the thirteen states of the Mid-Atlantic. (D.C. is part of this same region.) Currently, just over sixty percent of the region’s power is generated by coal. In D.C., oil burning is the main source of electricity, according to the EPA.

Of course, fossil fuel power plants are a major source of air pollution. In 2010, a nonprofit environmental group called the Clean Air Task Force, found that pollution from coal-fired power plants could cause the premature death of more than 13,000 people in the same year.

Although it is an absurdly obvious point to state, electricity produced by solar panels, or other solar technology, such as parabolic dishes, does not produce great volumes of toxic air pollution. So, it contributes far less to climate change, and is better for the health of people, animals, and plant life. The fact there is even one gigawatt of solar power in the Mid-Atlantic, which is coal- and oil-dominated, is some cause for hope.

Image Credit: Skyfox11, Public Domain

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.



  • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

    some slight edits made.

  • Bill_Woods

    “In D.C. and Virginia, oil burning is the main source of electricity, according to the EPA.”

    Not really.
    “The District of Columbia has two distillate fuel oil-fired power plants, Benning and Buzzard Point. Both plants are more than 35 years old, and for many years now have been used primarily as peaking plants, operating only a few hours per year during times of highest electricity demand.”
    http://www.eia.gov/state/state-energy-profiles-analysis.cfm?sid=DC

    “Coal-fired power plants typically account for nearly one-half of the State’s electricity generation. Two nuclear power plants account for about one-third of the State’s generation, and natural gas- and petroleum-fired power plants account for much of the rest.”
    http://www.eia.gov/state/state-energy-profiles-analysis.cfm?sid=VA

  • Jake

    Bob, the source says up to one million homes.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If your source is the first link then the source says ” when the sun is shining”.

      For ~4.5 hours per day there is enough electricity produced to power 800,000 to a million houses.

      For the other ~19.5 hours there is no electricity produced.

      That makes your title incorrect.

  • Matt

    On the big plus side, assuming double in two years is correct, then that is 500MW added in two years. That is fast compared to building a coal plant and way faster than building a nuclear plant.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Jake, need to be careful with the ‘one million homes’ claim.

    Here’s what your linked source says – “That’s enough – when the sun is shining – to power 800,000 to 1 million homes.” And that’s also not a great way to present things.

    Let’s assume an average 4.5 solar hour day for the area. About a 19% capacity. Or enough electricity to fully power 150,000 to 188,000 homes.

    It’s still an impressive number and failing to adjust for capacity allows scoffers to quickly dismiss the real accomplishment.

    • Anne

      +1

      Let’s not inflate figures to unrealistic values and stay with our feet on the ground.

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