28 June 2021

Our neighborhood solar farm


I live under that yellow arrow and drive past this array of solar panels every time I run errands to Target.  I'm delighted to see this technology being implemented in our community ("Fitchburg Mayor Aaron Richardson said the project will allow the city to meet 40% of its operational needs with renewable energy, surpassing the goal of 25% by 2025.")  And there is a proposal to build one 15X this large in a more rural part of the county.

But there is at least one local Grinch/Luddite who wrote in to the paper: 
"My goodness. Where or when was the outrage, if not at least objection, to the construction and loss of green space to such a huge area -- right in our backyard... Who will want to live, shop or even work next to 160 acres of giant, hot, shiny, some might say ugly, green-space eating technology?"

13 comments:

  1. I'd wager the luddite wouldn't have said a word if that had been 160 acres of strip mall/parking lot.

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  2. to echo the comment above, why not out those over all the strip malls and parking lots? shade/less energy spent on cooling…

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    1. The IKEA store outside of Baltimore has these covering almost their entire parking lot. It is nice in the summer to be able to park in the shade. Community colleges and a few universities around here have done the same.

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  3. we have two solar farms in town, and two more under way. one of the existing farms was put up by the guvmint on their land, so it is very visible. the two under way had resistance from residential abutters, and some questions about zoning (are solar farms a business) but those have been settled. those two are supposed to get some plantings to shield them from view.

    with so many of what are now small farms going away (and being made available for development), these solar farms are, in a way, a method of keeping land 'green' as opposed to the '160 acres of asphalt' mentioned above.

    I-)

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  4. Those retail parking lots could be shaded by solar panels. People would be happy to shop where they can park in the shade and the array would be a revenue stream for the store/mall owner. Win win.

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    1. Examples here -

      https://www.absoluterv.com/commercial/case-solar-energy-parking-lots/

      https://news.energysage.com/solar-canopy-installations-bring-shade-clean-energy-parking-lot/

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  5. If done correct it's an ideal sheep farm.

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    1. IIRC, at least one of the farmers involved in this project leased his land to the city, retaining ownership and potentially the right to underplant the installations. There is plenty of indirect light that would support a variety of crops - including pasture - and some environmental groups are using these projects to plant forbs that will attract and support pollinators.

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    2. And today I learned a new word - "forb". Thanks!

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  6. Ah, that reminds me, I recently read Mexico is getting into the blueberry business to rival the avocados.
    One part of the infrastructure investment is semi shaded growing conditions. I'd assume because the sun is intense at that latitude. They could be selling power as well as berries.

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  7. Would it be "Luddite" to ask what power source will replace the power generated by the solar farm at night or in cloudy conditions?

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    1. 1: The "Luddite" actually calls himself that, so we're just using his name

      2: The same stricture applies to all solar installations, which, in turn, means that they have to be parts of a larger system (that might include pumped storage, batteries, wind power or whatever).

      3: solar power is used during the hottest part of the 24-hour cycle, which means that air conditioning can be run from the solar array. Excess power use for AC is what tends to lead to brownouts.

      4: The array itself leads to cooling of the surface underneath the array, so disadvantaged people could at least come into the shade, a cost-free partial solution to a killer problem.

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    2. Modern solar panels store their energy in batteries, so that the energy they harvest can be used at night or on cloudy days.

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