2015 was a good year for Duke Energy, as the company added 300 MW of PV solar in North Carolina. Four utility-scale projects were developed and a number of solar facilities were acquired. “Solar is helping to modernize our generation mix and better serve our customers’ needs. We plan to continue the momentum; we’ve already announced we will build an additional 75 megawatts in 2016,” explained Rob Caldwell, senior vice president of Distributed Energy Resources at Duke.
One source said the 300 MW is enough to power 60,000 homes, but this figure might be high. The Solar Energy Industries Association says that number of homes which can be powered by one megawatt of solar power is about 164. If that is the case, the number of homes would be about 48,000. North Carolina is a solar power leader among US states, ranking in the top 5.
This is remarkable in the sense that it is also a regional leader, as the South in America has not exactly taken enthusiastically to solar power, except North Carolina, which is a state that one could say is a technology leader generally, due to the presence of the Research Triangle. This area includes Duke University, N.C. State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
One might say the state of North Carolina is performing a sort of double duty, in that it is a national and regional leader in solar power. In the regional sense, it almost seems somewhat counter-cultural for it to move aggressively on solar power. North Carolina mostly has voted Republican in presidential elections, with 2008 being an exception.
Republican states generally don’t embrace solar or wind power, so North Carolina is something of an outlier and as such it deserves credit for being forward-looking. Climate change is a real thing and it doesn’t make any sense to continue to burn coal as if there are no consequences. Additionally, doing so creates tremendous amounts of air pollution which is harmful to humans. In a sense, coal-burning is not just an environmental issue, because it damages human health too.
Image Credit: TSimmons, Wiki Commons