Solar Farms a tough sell in Maryland: As massive solar farms blossom, officials face conflict between state energy policy and local preferences
Energy companies, lured by a state policy that encourages renewable electricity generation and riding a larger industry boom, are flocking to Maryland farmland to build massive solar installations. Developers proposed 11,000 new solar projects in the state last year, more than twice as many as in 2014, and some of them would dwarf this Eastern Shore facility.Both solar and wind power are land intensive, requiring far more acreage to produce a gigawatt of power than a corresponding fossil fuel or nuclear power plant. It's ironic, but sadly typical that the country's urban liberal elites are trying to foist large, land gobbling "sustainable" power schemes on the rural, more conservative dwellers of the red spaces between the major population centers.
But now the industry's rapid rise is threatened by the revival of a conflict that had laid dormant for decades — since most of the state's large power plants were built.
While clean energy advocates and regulators are trying to help the state manage its power supply, local officials and the homeowners they represent are wary of massive new installations rising in their communities.
. . .
But in rural communities that have already seen housing developments splinter and absorb farmland, solar farms are viewed as a new threat.
Talbot County Councilman Dirck Bartlett voted this summer to ban new solar projects in the county for six months.
"I don't think it's right that the PSC can just come in and say, 'Guess what? We've just approved 48 500-foot wind turbines in your county,' and plunk it down," he said. "What that would do, without any local control, could really reshape an area forever."
Solar panels, while they mitigate the effects of global warming by replacing fossil fuels, can add heat in the locations where they are installed, reports a team of University of Arizona researchers.Really not a great shock. Photocells aren't really very efficient under the best of circumstances, with a maximum conversions efficiency of about 30%, the rest of the light being absorbed and turned to heat. or scattered. And over the long run, photovoltaic power isn't usually ideal, Cells get dirty and dusty, some fraction fails. But, hey, at least they export the heating to the rural sites, covered with solar cells.
At first blush, the experimental results, published Thursday in Nature Science Reports, seem to contradict computer simulations that said solar photovoltaic arrays, by intercepting some of the sun’s warming rays and converting them into electricity, would have a cooling effect.
The UA researchers measured the heat-island effect of a solar array at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road and Interstate 10. They found that its overnight temperatures were about five to seven degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than a nearby plot of undisturbed desert.
Additional experiments are being conducted to determine the potential effect of the measured heating on nearby communities and the overall environment.