Farming A Solar Crop
Solar is one of the preferred “green” energy solutions and to be honest, I own a few smaller portable panels for camping and hiking. Mine are either dedicated to charging a particular device or recharging batteries via a USB connection.
Of course, my solar footprint is minuscule compared to the roughly 484-620 megawatt (every source has a different figure) solar farm being built in Spotsylvania, Virginia. The $615 million facility in Spotsylvania, is on a 6,350-acre plot of land, of which 3,500 acres is developed into actual solar panels and 2,000 acres as a preserve and conservation project. This is the largest solar project east of the Rocky Mountains. The largest U.S solar facility is the Nevada-based Copper Mountain Solar facility, which produces 794 megawatts a day. The largest solar farm in the world is the Bhadla Solar Park in India, which covers 14,000 acres and distributes 2.25 gigawatts of energy per day.
Now if my Math for Marines MCI course was correct, there are 1,000 acres that they are not reporting, what it is being used for?
This farm uses 1.8 million solar panels and will generate enough power to supply 111,000 homes and offset 340,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year… However citizens in Spotsylvania will not be able to use any of this power, instead, Utah-based Sustainable Power Group (sPower and the project developer) has agreements to sell its energy to high-tech companies, including Microsoft, that have plans to build new power data centers in the state. The University of Richmond also has signed a contract to use power from a portion of the project.
And what do you get for $615,000,000? Well, it brings with it 6,350 acres of forest, ponds, creeks, and it also came with hundreds of wildlife, and all this has now been deforested and the now-cleared land will be subjected to massive erosion and chemical runoff. Sadly, this project only created 20-25 jobs for local residents. sPower used over 300 million gallons of water during the construction and around 8 million gallons a year to operate.
Currently, this is the largest solar farm in Virginia, but in August of this year, Charlotte County approved an $800 million project to build an 800-megawatt solar farm that will encompass 21,000 acres.