Rooftop Solar is Expected to Generate 32% of Virginia’s Electricity
Rooftop solar could generate nearly 40% of electricity in the United States, according to a recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NERL). The report went on to create at state-by-state comparison that estimated that the combined potential for energy from solar on small, medium and large buildings in the Commonwealth of Virginia would account for 32.4 percent of its electricity.
The NREL looked at ZIP-code-level data with rooftop suitability characteristics to model the rooftop capacity of 128 cities across the United States. In addition to looking at suitability, the NREL also factored in each state’s per-capita energy consumption to determine the overall potential for solar to offset electricity generation. Keep in mind that the NREL only looked at buildings, not at other suitable sites for solar.
In fact, according to an NREL spokesperson, “It is important to note that this report only estimates the potential from existing, suitable rooftops, and does not consider the immense potential of ground-mounted PV.”
Solar Farming and the Future of VA Renewable Energy
Reading the NREL has us imaging how much potential Virginia has for solar energy. If you have read recent posts, you know we supported Senator Wagner’s efforts to allow Virginia farmers to use their land to generate solar energy to produce power for their own needs, as well as to sell excess power to other customers or back to their utility. We actively encouraged our readers to support Senate Bill 779, which would have enabled Virginia farmers to create an additional long-term predictable source of revenue from solar farming.
Unfortunately, the bill was shelved until next year. We want Virginia farmers to have the chance to use solar to create a predictable income stream, so we will be watching the committee discussions over the coming months with great interest.
In the meantime, we cannot help but imagine how much energy the Commonwealth could generate if it allowed for “farming” of the sun.
Virginia has more than 46,000 farms, and the average farm size is 171 acres. According to the Virginia Farm Bureau, farms account for 32 percent of Virginia’s total land area, covering 7.9 million acres.
Imagine how Virginia would look on this NERL map, if we allowed for farming of the sun:
About 90 percent of Virginia farms are owned and operated by individuals or families.
Show Virginia farmers your support — reach out to your Senators and Delegates to let them know that solar is important for farmers and everyone in Virginia and you expect them to support SB 779.
In our next post, we will discuss why solar and other options for energy could prove to be safer for Virginia.