Site preparation costs for utility-scale solar projects are expected to account for 20 percent of utility-scale photovoltaics installed costs in 2020. In 2016 the National Renewable Energy Lab began studying low-impact solar development approaches that have the potential to:
Provide significant co-benefits to agriculture
Reduce development costs and environmental impact
In a Department of Energy-sponsored webinar, National Renewable Energy Lab’s Jordan Macknick, SoCore Energy’s Laura Caspari, and Fresh Energy’s Rob Davis presented an update on research and work related to co-location of agriculture and solar. Download PDF of slides. Led by Macknick, National Renewable Energy Lab’s InSPIRE project will comprehensively assess baseline costs, as well as strategies for cost reduction and for environmental impact reduction. Davis reviewed the agricultural benefits of pollinator habitat—a low-growing meadow mix of grasses and flowers.
This week, Xcel Energy filed a “concept proposal” to develop a community solar garden project intended to serve low-income customers. The proposal comes on the heels of months of advocacy for improved low-income community solar offerings from Fresh Energy and many partner organizations at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Today, Governor Dayton signed a bill into law that allows Xcel Energy to build a natural gas plant in Becker, Minnesota. Though Fresh Energy believes that the bill is a missed opportunity to pursue even greater investments in local clean energy sources like wind, solar, and energy efficiency, we are hopeful that Xcel will bring plans for the proposed plant to the Public Utilities Commission for careful review.
Fresh Energy science policy director J. Drake Hamilton released the following statement after Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith unveiled the proposed legislation for an increased Renewable Energy Standard.