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County by county, solar panels face pushback

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The environmental conflict is not one side’s intention: Solar supporters are at odds with conservationists.

Solar energy supporters are pushing an alternative to fossil fuels. Large solar farms have begun popping up all across America. People who live in the vicinity of solar energy projects and conservationists are horrified at the destruction to ecologically fragile areas by rows upon rows of solar panels.

Michael Webber of the University of Texas at Austin, professor of energy resources, said, “It’s funny that there’s environment resistance to wind or solar. Which is an environmentally solution.”

However, he said, “It’s not all that surprising as solar has moved from being an emerging technology to becoming more mainstream.”

Webber stated, “Anytime you do something at scale you get resistance.” There is resistance to nuclear power, oil and gas and shopping malls. This is a sign that solar has reached maturity. When people try to scale up, they get resistant.

State by state, county by county have been fought. This has forced communities to think about how much money they can give up to help decarbonize their economy.

These solar panels have also led to a search for more locations where millions can be placed, often in unlikely places or with help from unrelated allies. Researchers, ecologists, and companies in the energy sector are turning increasingly to places like agricultural canals, grazing fields, roofs, parking lots, big-box retail locations, interstate highways, airports, tops of waste treatment plants, mines, and landfills.

The panels would have to fit in wherever there is space.

Jordan Harris, Solar AquaGrid’s CEO, stated that “we need to examine every piece of previously developed land”: each rooftop, every parking area, and the 4,000-miles of open canal here in California. The startup is in the process of installing solar-panel canopies over water supply canals in California’s Central Valley — a project that will have the added benefit of reducing evaporation of scarce water. State funding is available in the amount of $20 million.

Solar panels are now more cost-effective than traditional fossil fuels because the price has fallen in recent decades. Nowadays, solar panels can be found on homes and businesses as well as in some government buildings.

Analysts still believe that the majority of solar energy production will come from utilities-scale projects in the future, partly because of the cost savings associated with large installations.

Those projects are the ones facing resistance. California, Indiana and Maine have placed moratoriums against large-scale solar farms in their states. This is because of complaints from wildlife and scenic view defenders. One town in Nevada, west of Las Vegas is trying to prevent a planned 2,300-acre solar park.

NBC News surveyed 57 US cities, towns, and counties for solar moratoriums. Not all bans are covered by local news media. The measures were approved by at least 40 people. In earlier years, other localities approved the measures.

The resistance to big dreams of the solar power movement is an obstacle. The U.S. Solar market was analyzed by Wood Mackenzie research and published December 12th by the Solar Energy Industries Association. This trade group identified “siting constraints” among the factors that are limiting growth.

However, it is becoming more urgent to decrease the consumption of fossil fuels. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN) warned last month of global warming threatening water and food resources. Meanwhile, more Americans are calling for energy independence due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Solar advocates have been left to search for alternative allies.

Environment America, an advocacy group launched last year a campaign asking Walmart, America’s largest retailer, to put solar panels on all of their roofs and in its parking lots by 2035. More than 150 environmental groups had joined the campaign by November. According to a study, solar canopy installation over Walmart supercenter parking lots would produce enough power for 36,000 charge stations for electric cars.

Johanna Neumann is the senior director of the Renewable Energy Campaign at Environment America. She stated that there’s only so much earth on the planet.

We can offer them true value by giving them the dual function of solar plants.

The solar sector can avoid environmental issues by using the big-box warehouses’ roofs, said Sheri.

Neumann explained that “you don’t run into problems of pitting cleaner-energy advocates against conservists.”

Corporations looking to cut their carbon emissions have already begun to embrace solar energy. Walmart ranks No. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Walmart ranks No. 3 among U.S. companies in terms of solar capacity, behind Amazon and Apple, and ahead Target. The group released a report that stated 15 times the amount of solar capacity U.S. companies, including big-box and warehouse stores, had been installed in 2019 than there was a decade ago.

Walmart isn’t willing to comply with all environmental requests, but it said that it had more than 550 projects in the pipeline or implemented. Many have been opened in California recently, some with parking garage canopies. According to the company’s estimate, 100 percent of renewable energy will be used by 2035. This is an increase from its current 36 percent.

Walmart released a statement saying that their decision on solar vs. winds and onsite or offsite depends on many factors, including costs and resources availability.

Although smaller solar sites may not have the same scale economies as larger utility-sized sites, experts say they offer other advantages, such as revenue from local sales, self-sufficiency and reduced transmission costs.

Joshua Pearce from Western University, Ontario Canada has studied the installation of solar panels in parking lots, reservoirs and other locations.

His statement was: “Right now the grid is all centralized, but I believe it will move towards a Federation of Different Solar Communities.”

Biden’s administration stated that by 2050, nearly half of America’s electricity could be generated from solar energy. Surveys show that solar and wind energy are popular.

The entire solar industry is now able to identify hidden locations where panels can be installed. Aurora Solar, an innovative tech company based in San Francisco sells software that allows installation companies to locate potential clients as well as to design their systems.

The software pulls data on weather and available sunlight at a given location and combines it with data from aerial imagery and lidar laser technology about the size and dimensions of individual buildings — all to encourage solar adoption on a much wider scale.

You’re doing work you used to do in person. One building at a.

Christopher Hopper and Sam Adeyemo, a former business school classmate co-founded the company. According to him, the traditional way is not viable. The design process is time-consuming and inaccurate.

Google launched Project Sunroof in 2015 as a consumer-facing site. This website allows users to see how much solar energy is possible at their given U.S. location.

A push is also being made to place solar farms far from the tourist trail, or in areas that offer scenic views.

Houston chose the site, which covers 240 acres of an old landfill, to build what it claimed will be the biggest infill solar project anywhere in America. According to the city, the Sunnyside neighborhood will receive enough power for approximately 5,000 homes. In New Jersey, similar projects were built on land that was already in use.

One energy company has begun building a solar farm on an old coal mine at the Kentucky/West Virginia border. Cornell University scientists are currently testing installing solar panels on grass where sheep roam.

Northern California city boasts it has the most extensive floating solar farm in America at its wastewater treatment plants. A Chinese energy company also claimed that it built the world’s largest solar array from a reservoir in China in January.

The Biden administration also encouraged development of solar power projects along highway right-of way last year. A notice by the Federal Highway Administration urged field offices to collaborate with the states with ideas. Webber and other researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have found that most states possess more than 200 miles of interstate frontage, which is ideal for solar development. This includes areas near exits or rest stops.

Creative locations offer a unique benefit: There are less neighbors that might be unhappy.

To solve problems, people have to do something, even if they don’t like it. Webber described it as “annoying”. Webber stated, “We as a nation have to decide whether or not we are going to invest for the future.”

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