A great deal has been made out of the need to shift away from coal fired power plants and toward renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar in the U.S. While this is certainly a laudable goal, the full impact of a move to renewable power generation has consequences beyond simply reducing emissions and finding alternative power sources. Specifically, determining how to effectively integrate these new power sources, particularly wind and solar, which are highly variable and can go from zero to full production almost instantaneously, pose significant challenges for grid operators.
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The promise of solar energy has been around for decades, but we may be moving past the dawn of the solar age into the early morning hours. With the Obama administration’s desire to move to 20% of all electricity coming from renewable energy by 2020, solar energy is likely to play a key role. Steps are already being taken to make the permit process and the development of solar energy more efficient and less costly. A closer examination of solar energy trends reveals that top corporate users of solar power have deployed over 400MW at nearly 1,000 facilities in 30 states (source: Solar Energy Industries Association).
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