Demand more from solar farms

Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

In reference to the article “Solar farm’s neighbors might get break on light bills” in the March 3 Smithfield Times, solar business entities realize their low public image by resorting to rebates to nearby landowners.

How about rebating more of that annual $13 million Coal to Solar Replacement Fuel Cost (RFC) saved by having the equivalent 150MW solar facility?

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How about “Made in the USA” all new and replacement solar, structural, mechanical and electrical items? All construction, maintenance and operation workforce are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners-trained and residents of the county. No deforestation and hide these facilities. Recycle all components. Post one 8-foot-by-4 foot sign visible from the road with emergency and business contact info, trending annual MWHrs and coal savings, and latest taxes paid.

Solar can afford to show a higher degree of aesthetics, community and ownership. They compete in a power market having advantages over other energy technologies: tax breaks, least regulated, great public appeal from out of towners, free fuel, and are not likely to be closed for non-conformance.

Capacity Factor (CF) is the percent energy produced compared to its max energy available.  The business entities do not show this important component when it comes to differentiating power (MW) to energy (MWHr). High CF near 100% is real in coal and nuclear units. Solar CF is inherently low due the changing sun position.

Solar CF quickly decreases with panel age, panel temps and bad orientation like Woodland.  The CF for an IW and Surry single axis 180 degrees azimuth solar facility is 19.6%, 24/7, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This reduces a new 150 MW solar facility to 29 MW coal/gas/oil/nuclear unit equivalent.

The 29 MW upside is the coal-to-solar RFC. With coal today at $90 per ton, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and free solar, there is an annual cost savings of $13.098 million.


David Tucker