Solar Power Controversy: Bright Prospects and Dark Opposition Unveiled

Welcome back to my solar blog! As an advocate and solar expert, it’s my ongoing mission to educate my readers about the state of the solar industry. I come bearing interesting news about solar power advancements, and some challenges to these progressions. I hope you’ll find this information useful, especially if you’re considering solar panels for your home or contemplating a larger solar array for home use.

In recent years, solar energy has been thriving in the United States, fueled by proactive policies and a widespread push for decarbonization. It’s not an inflated claim to say that solar is really booming, with an impressive 22.5 GW of utility-scale solar capacity installed in 2023. That’s a whopping 77% growth from 2022, placing solar companies front and center in America’s energy transition.

Unfortunately, like in any great undertaking, solar growth has not come without opposition. Developers cite public objection as a notable barrier, with neighbors living near proposed large-scale installations and organized groups advocating against utility-scale projects. However, with the right approach and by focusing on the numerous benefits of solar arrays, numerous projects have successfully navigated these objections and built successful installations.

Take the Spotsylvania project in Virginia for example. Despite initial strong opposition from local groups and concerns from neighbors, the developers were able to move forward with the project by adjusting the initial plans to meet opposition halfway. The result? A shining beacon of clean energy powering tech giant Microsoft’s operations. This project also brought substantial local economic benefit, creating over 700 jobs during construction and retaining 35 of these permanently.

On the flip side, there have been instances where local opposition led to a project’s discontinuation. This was the case with Battle Born Solar Project in Moapa Valley, Nevada, a proposed 850 MW solar installation that would have been the largest in the country. The developers eventually withdrew the application due to public objection.

While it’s true that local opposition can challenge solar power projects, this isn’t a reason to despair. Many projects are marching forward, like the Oberon solar project in Southern California, and Savion’s Oak Run in Ohio -an 800 MW solar facility with 300 MW of co-located energy storage.

To address and ideally prevent opposition, timely communication and education have been identified as crucial tools. A study conducted jointly by California’s Berkeley Lab, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan found that fear of blocked views, noise and potential environmental impact are common among neighbors of proposed solar projects. The solution, according to the researchers, lies in fostering open conversations between project developers, local officials, and community members.

Embracing an innovative approach, start-up Learnewable is using artificial intelligence to tackle this opposition. Their stakeholder agreement platform offers project developers risk assessments based on insights into local objections, and recommends tailored strategies and messaging to support community outreach efforts.

As we look forward to the estimated tripling of PV capacity in the United States by 2028, open and frequent communication becomes even more critical. Solar power is an amazing tool in the fight against climate change and it creates great opportunities, both at a national and local level. Explaining its benefits and addressing potential drawbacks will be fundamental in convincing even more Americans to embrace this clean, abundant and renewable source of energy.

In conclusion, the solar industry is poised for growth despite headwinds from local public opposition. As an individual interested in supporting the industry or having solar panels for your home, you have the unique opportunity to demonstrate how solar energy positively impacts our society and the planet. In my next posts, I will share more on how you can be a part of this exciting journey by choosing to work with a reliable solar company for your residential solar needs. Till then, keep shining, fellow solar advocates!

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