The College of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Middle for Public Service issued a coverage roadmap on planning and paying for the decommissioning of photo voltaic amenities, filling a vital hole in data because the clean-energy trade quickly accelerates throughout the Commonwealth.
Massive- and utility-scale photo voltaic amenities are a fast-growing supply of electrical energy in Virginia and a key part of the Commonwealth’s decarbonization technique. Nationwide knowledge point out that as of June 2022, at the least 62 photo voltaic amenities produce energy in Virginia, with quite a few different initiatives underneath building or consideration. Photo voltaic is at present the least costly supply of Virginia’s electrical energy provide and is now producing extra energy than coal.
However on the different finish of the photo voltaic growth comes a time when a few of in the present day’s amenities retire, in about 30 years, and stakeholders more and more must plan for ultimately eradicating them.
In its 60-page report, the Cooper Middle gives steerage on the authorized, regulatory and monetary framework for decommissioning photo voltaic amenities, filling a useful resource hole that was revealed in its Virginia Photo voltaic Survey earlier this 12 months, which discovered the difficulty to be among the many high 5 matters of curiosity to localities in terms of photo voltaic improvement.
“Localities have expressed they want extra details about decommissioning so as to really feel comfy that in approving large-scale photo voltaic amenities, they’re defending the monetary and environmental pursuits of the neighborhood,” mentioned Elizabeth Marshall, senior coordinator of the Cooper Middle’s Virginia Photo voltaic Initiative. “Thus far, there was little or no complete analysis or steerage on the topic, and nearly nothing that’s Virginia particular. That is undoubtedly of curiosity to photo voltaic builders, localities and stakeholders statewide.”
Marshall added that different states that don’t have already got decommissioning steerage could discover the report an excellent mannequin that may be custom-made as wanted.
Decommissioning a photo voltaic discipline by eradicating the photo voltaic panels and help constructions is a comparatively easy course of however can include prices upwards of $1 million. When allowing a big photo voltaic facility, localities typically require monetary assurance that the set up firm pays for its final removing.
“Selecting essentially the most acceptable type of monetary safety is usually a difficult resolution for localities, because it has vital implications for the photo voltaic venture’s building and financing,” mentioned Irene Cox of the Cooper Middle and the writer of the report. “We offer a number of choices in order that decommissioning is a manageable danger for localities however not an undue burden on builders.”
The report compiles details about state and native legal guidelines, suggestions from state and federal businesses, and numerous approaches in comparable markets to current a listing of customizable decommissioning finest practices. For instance, the report suggests localities take into account adopting a decommissioning ordinance that, amongst different issues, specifies monetary assurance choices, situations for land restoration and post-closure land-use. In the end, the middle’s report might help shield the monetary pursuits of localities, cut back pointless prices to venture builders and supply assurance that the land is left in appropriate situation.
“Issues over decommissioning prices can add pointless issues to the method of allowing new photo voltaic amenities,” mentioned William Shobe, director of the middle’s Vitality Transition Initiative. “Our new information ought to assist easy negotiations over amenities that may be an actual asset to the native economic system, in addition to profit ratepayers throughout the state whereas additionally serving to tackle local weather change.”
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