According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Virginia has only nine megawatts of solar power capacity installed. This amount ranks it among the smaller solar power states in America. However, a new solar power plant with a 20 MW capacity has been planned for installation in Fauquier County.
If the new solar plant is completed, Virginia’s solar power capacity would more than triple from this one project, because it would go from 9 MW to 29 MW.
Currently, Virginia’s power comes from three main sources:
Nuclear – 36%
Natural gas – 30%
Coal – 29%
Renewables have not been developed much, but it appears there might be some movement with solar power.
“I want to thank Dominion for their commitment to solar energy development with a project that nearly doubles Virginia’s production of solar energy. I look forward to working with them to continue to expand renewable generation in Virginia and diversify the Commonwealth’s fuel mix,” explained Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
People who follow solar power are probably more accustomed to reading about huge new solar plants, like the 500 MW ones in California. A new 20 MW plant in Virginia looks like small potatoes, until you understand it would grow solar power there multiple times.
A state that ranks low in solar power has to overcome a mindset that may have been previously against it. Politics plays a role in maintaining resistance as well. Typically, renewable energy has received much more support from Democrats, so states that
lean the other way or are very conservative, generally have not invested much in solar or wind power.
The dramatic drop in solar power costs recently has made it much more attractive though. Georgia appeared to be resistant to solar power, but it recently approved some very large projects. Florida has been resistant too, but there are some local people who are pushing for it and they might make some progress.
If enough of these conservative states, and ones that are a mix of red and blue, begin to adopt more solar power it might be the last major barrier that is falling.