Large solar power installations require a lot of space and a lot of approvals. As a reaction to this, smaller solar power installations have been approved and placed close to transmission centres. This is a more reliable and sustainable energy network than what existed before.
Over the past few weeks, some 1,300 megawatts’ worth of distributed solar deals and initiatives have been announced or approved. At peak output, that is the equivalent of a big nuclear power plant.
Two weeks ago in California, regulators authorized the utility Southern California Edison’s program to install 500 megawatts of solar on commercial rooftops. A few days later, they recommended that Pacific Gas and Electric, the dominant utility in Northern California, be given the green light for its own 500-megawatt initiative that aims to install ground-mounted photovoltaic arrays near electrical substations and urban areas.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District said in January that it took only a week to sell out its 100-megawatt solar program, which offers developers the opportunity to build photovoltaic projects of up to five megawatts.
And last week, the New York Power Authority announced a program to install 100 megawatts of solar arrays around the state.
“All of this is a great indication that solar prices are continuing to get a lot cheaper and that results in scale,” said Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes renewable energy.