There’s been a lot of buzz around solar development on reclaimed mining sites—which usually qualify as brownfields—since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August of 2022. In Virginia, at least, that interest pre-dates the IRA, and at least two projects on former coal mining sites were announced prior to August 2022. SolUnesco has been exploring post-coal mining solar opportunities in Virginia for some time, and that, coupled with my own geotechnical mining experience, might offer a unique perspective
By Seth Maughan At SolUnesco, “community” is one of our core values, and we make it a goal to give back to the communities in which we operate. As such, we were thrilled to recently support the learning of solar concepts at Locust Grove Middle School. The school is located just down the street from the Madison Solar Farm, a proposed 400-acre, 60-MW solar farm, on which SolUnesco worked to get zoning approval from the County last year. On May
By Seth Maughan Earlier this Spring, Microsoft announced some big news. The Company broadcast "the single largest corporate purchase of solar energy ever in the United States." On the heels of two large purchases in Singapore and India, Microsoft closed a deal to purchase 315 megawatts (MW) of solar in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This purchase brings Microsoft closer to the Company’s goal of having their data centers rely 60% on renewable energy by 2020. Governor Northam praised the deal,
As solar developers, we believe in our mission and the positive impacts of our work. Even so, we should never assume that a community will embrace a new solar energy generating plant. Local permitting can be the most precarious stage of utility-scale solar development. It’s the only stage where the people who decide your project’s fate don’t follow a uniform rubric. A county official may be able to deny your project for any reason. As a result, politics and emotion
This post references research and analysis from an original SolUnesco white paper, which can be downloaded in full, here. Much has been said about the recent plummeting costs of solar technology, and the corresponding ability for utility-scale projects to legitimately compete with more conventional forms of generation. While this is certainly a reality, it is also conditional. Solar profit margins are generally still too slim to overcome less-than-ideal project conditions. The most elemental development ingredient is land; in order to
When Donald Trump tapped Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead the U.S. Department of Energy, many critics were quick to respond. We were reminded of the time when, during one of his own unsuccessful presidential bids, Gov. Perry vowed to eliminate the DOE, then forgot its name on national television. It has also been pointed out that he does not come with the same scientific expertise as former DOE heads; for example, his BS in Animal Science does not quite
This month, the Department of Energy released the “U.S. Energy and Employment Report”, an annual report that highlights employment data and trends for each of the energy sectors. While the report concedes that the solar industry employment data is difficult to measure, it suggests that the solar industry may have added 73,000 jobs in the past year, bringing total solar jobs to 373,000. To put this into perspective; the same DOE report puts U.S. coal jobs at roughly 86,000, total.
In February, the fate of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) was put into question when the Supreme Court put a stay on the rule, pending a judicial review. With the upcoming administration change, the question mark has grown. On December 28, those of us in Virginia learned bit about where our leadership stands when Attorney General Mark Herring affixed his name to an open letter to Donald Trump, urging him to “continue the federal government’s defense of the Clean Power