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Solar news: September 4th, 2020

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, solar and wind won big in 2019, and developers announce plans to build two large solar projects on land formerly used for fossil fuels.

Two-thirds of global power generation additions in 2019 were from wind and solar

According to newly-released data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2019 saw wind and solar combining to lead the charge for new power generation, totaling two-thirds of all additions in the year. Solar alone accounted for nearly half (45% to be exact) of all new generation capacity worldwide, with 81 countries building at least one megawatt of solar in the last calendar year.

“Sharp declines in solar equipment costs, namely the modules that go on rooftops and in fields, have made this technology widely available for homes, businesses and grids,” said Luiza Demôro, BNEF analyst and lead author of the study. “PV is now truly ubiquitous and a worldwide phenomenon.”

In the past decade, solar has risen from 43.7 gigawatts (GW) of capacity to 651 GW at the end of 2019, passing wind (644 GW) for the title of fourth-largest source of power worldwide. Globally, solar remains behind coal (2,089 GW), gas (1,812 GW), and hydropower (1,160 GW).

Two solar projects announced on former coal sites

This week, large solar projects in Virginia and Pennsylvania were announced. Of note, both projects are slated to be developed on and around land formerly used for harvesting coal. In Virginia, developers will build 12 megawatts (MW) of solar over the next three years in the state’s historic coalfield region. The projects will create 15 full-time jobs in the process. And in Pennsylvania’s Snyder County, up to 20 MW of solar is planned for a site formerly used as a coal ash basin to supply a now-defunct coal-fired generation plant nearby.

“We’re trying to bring a solar revolution into the coalfields region,” said Tony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures, a solar developer heavily involved in the Virginia project.

One of the many benefits of solar is the ability to install plants on previously used land, like in the case of these projects. Solar farms have been built on brownfields, landfills, and desert plains, all places where not much else could be developed. In the continuing transition to clean and renewable energy, evolving our fossil fuel production sites to host solar farms will continue to be important.

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