The large-scale photovoltaic solar projects are often the ones that will gain the most attention, but according to a recently released NPD Solarbuzz report, 40% of solar projects currently in progress in the United States come in under the 500kW size.
“These smaller projects have a considerable impact on the communities where they are being built, providing much-needed employment and energy cost reduction,” said Christine Beadle, Analyst for NPD Solarbuzz. “They also represent a significant opportunity for downstream balance-of-systems component suppliers and PV systems integrators within the United States.”
The NPD Solarbuzz report, United States Deal Tracker, provides a comprehensive insight into projects between 50kW and 500kW from across the country. They found that, currently, more than 1,300 projects fall into this category, generating a cumulative amount of 200 MW.
California currents accounts for over a quarter of the total US project pipeline in this category, thanks to the state’s 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard target. The next five states are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii.
Solarbuzz make an interesting point with regard to the popularity and ease of these smaller projects:
Smaller PV installations often have a greater impact on communities than larger ones, as they become much more than just a supply of electricity. Smaller projects cost less to install, are easier to gain permit approval, and have fewer barriers for project financing. And these projects are often installed at no cost to the host. Schools, municipal buildings, zoos, hospitals, and even retail stores such as IKEA are typically the host of these smaller installs.
Solar, Agriculture, and Sheep
Currently, land that was once used as agricultural land throughout the United States is in some places being converted to create renewable energy when the financial rewards outweigh those generated by agricultural uses. On top of that, there are some colleges throughout the country that have recently started using sheep to maintain the grass under their solar installations.
Currently, a test market is under construction in North Carolina for a 4MW installation to be used as a sheep and lamb farm, and monitored for herd movement.
“While PV arrays are often criticized for taking land away from agriculture and farming, the combination of sheep farming and PV power generation is a great solution in many areas, as farmers can benefit from two sources of income,” added Beadle. “And while the concept of sheep herding in the same field as a PV array is still in its infancy, it certainly shows a great deal of promise.”
Surely, everyone can get behind solar power when even the sheep are benefiting from it. Right?
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