How It Works

SOLAR DEVELOPMENT


Utility-scale solar development is a pretty new thing. Here are some answers to the questions people ask us most often.
 
THE PINE GATE RENEWABLES PROCESS
At Pine Gate Renewables, much of our success can be attributed to the fact that we love what we do. We enjoy working with landowners and community members to find the best ways of incorporating renewable energy into their unique energy infrastructure. Pine Gate Renewables selects project sites through a careful evaluation process, and fosters an environment of open communication and transparency to ensure the needs of all interested parties are accounted for.

  1. Close to Existing Infrastructure
  2. Utilizing Land Already Being Used for Industry
  3. Example 5MW Farm Produces 3.6 kWh of Clean Renewable Energy Annually
  4. Will Ideally Provide Natural Buffer Zones
  5. Minimal Environmental Impact
  6. Defensible Space

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I'M A LANDOWNER WITH 20+ CONTINUOUS ACRES OF LAND

I would like more information about solar farm development in my area.

GET ME MORE INFORMATION

GENERAL SOLAR FARM QUESTIONS

1
WHAT IS A SOLAR FARM?
A solar farm is a site that hosts a large quantity of ground-mounted photovoltaic (pv) solar panels. A solar farm can be really large (100+ acres) or relatively small (20+ acres). Small solar farms typically generate between 1 and 20 megawatts (MW) of solar energy (one MW of solar can power approximately 160 homes, and it takes about 8.3 acres per MW). The energy produced on a Pine Gate solar farm is typically pumped directly into the energy grid via an interconnection agreement with a local utility company.
2
HOW MANY SOLAR FARMS ARE THERE IN THE U.S.?
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) there are more than 2,100 developments in operation that generate about 48 gigawatts (GW) of power. There is also, however, over 30 GW of solar development under construction or in the planning stages.

Solar Has Become Even More Competitive

  • In 2016, solar comprised 39% of all new electric generating capacity installed – more than all other technologies (including natural gas, coal and wind) for the first time.
  • As an emerging energy source, solar has rapidly increased its share of total U.S. electrical generation – from only 0.1% in 2010 to over 1.4% currently.
  • The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% since 2010, making it more affordable and viable than ever.
  • Source: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data


The Future of Solar

  • By 2022, solar is expected to increase from 1.4% of total U.S. electrical generation to 5% – a major growth in a short period of time.
  • 72% of all solar capacity installed in 2016 was utility-scale, and this segment is expected to account for at least two-thirds of all solar capacity again in 2017.
  • By 2021, there is expected to be over 100 GW of solar installed in the U.S.

    Source: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-industry-data
3
WHERE ARE U.S. SOLAR FARMS LOCATED?
Check out the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Major Projects Map that shows large-scale solar PV projects currently operating and under construction across the U.S.: https://www.seia.org/states-map
4
WHY IS SOLAR FARMING SO POPULAR ALL OF THE SUDDEN?
Factors including climate change, energy security and the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil have resulted in a turning point in our nation’s attitude about solar power. Concurrently, the cost of solar power development has decreased dramatically in recent years. Solar power is one of our most prevalent and economical renewable resources, and we finally have the technology to use it to its fullest potential.
5
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PV AND CSP SOLAR PANELS?
First, PV stands for photovoltaic and CSP stands for concentrated solar power. According to NASA, pv solar works to convert sunlight into energy at the atomic level. The panels are made of semi-conductive material that has a positive and negative side. When the light hits the panel, a reaction occurs in which electrons are separated from atoms and an electrical current (electricity) is generated. This current is then captured and can be uploaded to the grid for distribution.

CSP, on the other hand, is a much more involved process. According to SEIA, CSP uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy, which heats a transfer fluid, like synthetic oil. This fluid heats water in order to produce steam. The steam is employed to power a turbine and this turbine produces the electricity.
6
I'VE BEEN HEARING THE TERM "DISTRIBUTED GENERATION" A LOT LATELY. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Distributed generation has to do with generating power close to where it will be used. Our historic energy model has depended on giant power plants located in far-off places to generate huge amounts of energy that is distributed via a complicated and expensive transmission structure.

While this method was necessary when coal and nuclear power were the standard (who wants a coal plant in their backyard?), there have always been issues associated with this strategy. Without delving into the environmental impact of coal and nuclear power, the most obvious issue is the lack of protection and security that comes with diversification (otherwise known as putting all of your eggs in one basket).

By generating smaller amounts of energy at more localized sites, the grid is not absolutely dependent on one power source. If something happens to take a distributed energy source offline, there are a number of other energy sources ready to step in and fill the gap. It’s a way to ensure a higher level of energy security. It’s also cheaper. Transmission infrastructure is expensive to build and maintain. Distributed energy sources can typically tie in to existing infrastructure closer to the point of delivery, thus eliminating the need for maintaining and building miles and miles of transmission lines and substations.