US DOE Launches Large Solar Siting RFI

US Department Of Energy Launches Request For Information To Evaluate Impacts Of Large Scale Solar Plants On Surrounding Ecosystem

US DOE Launches Large Solar Siting RFI

The DOE’s call also attempts to know if innovative PV applications as agrivoltaics or floating solar or siting large scale solar on contaminated land can reduce impacts or increase benefits for wildlife or habitat. It has launched a RFI to know the impacts of siting large scale solar energy plants on the surrounding ecosystem. (Illustrative Photo; Photo Credit: Thinnapob Proongsak/Shutterstock.com)

  • US DOE has launched a RFI to know the impacts of siting large scale solar energy plants on the surrounding ecosystem
  • It also attempts to understand the possible benefits of solar deployment and if these should be made part of the permitting process
  • The RFI may help it ask some unanswered questions about PV development while also figure out some best practices, guidelines or tools

As the US carves out a bigger role for solar energy in its energy transition to a 100% decarbonized grid by 2035, it wants to be sure about the technology’s impact on the ecosystem. For this, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a request for information (RFI) to assess and anticipate the impact of siting large scale solar energy plants and how stakeholders evaluate the impact these plants may have on surrounding environment, especially wildlife.

The US wants to increase the installed capacity of solar energy from 76 GW AC at the end of 2020 to 1 TW AC by 2035, something that’s expected to take about 5.7 million acres or 0.3% of the contiguous land, which isn’t too much, according to the DOE, but it may end up impacting the wildlife and wildlife habitat around.

Through the RFI, the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) wants to know how it can minimize impacts on the ecosystem and maximize the benefits to meet the administration’s climate goals. There are 4 categories and questions related to the subject of the RFI.

Under Category 1: Solar PV Trends and Siting, among other questions, the DOE wants to know the possible benefits of agrivoltaics or floating PV or siting PV systems on contaminated lands and if these can reduce impacts or increase benefits for wildlife or habitat.

Category 2: Species and Habitat Impacts aims to understand what benefits can solar PV development provide for species and habitats and if these should be considered in the permitting processes.

How can one avoid, mitigate and monitor impact of solar PV development on wildlife or local species forms the crux of Category 3: Avoidance, Mitigation and Monitoring.

Final Category 4: Resources Needed attempts to know best practices, guidelines or tools to make it easier to select and encourage lower-impact sites for solar development. Interested stakeholders would also get to share ‘most important unanswered questions’ about the impacts on and benefits to wildlife from solar development.

Specifically, the DOE is seeking information on current practices, trends and identifying relevant data or resources to ‘enable greater confidence’ in solar energy impact assessments. Basis the responses received, the DOE may at a later date or may not issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

This RFI is open to industry, government agencies, non-profits, research laboratories, academia and other stakeholders. Last date to submit RFI is September 30, 2021. Details about it are available on the website of the DOE.   

Along with this RFI, the department has also launched another RFI for decarbonizing industrial processes with solar thermal. 

The department shared that these topics were identified in the recently released Solar Futures Study that sees potential for solar energy to claim 40% of the country’s electricity mix by 2035 without raising prices, and recommended adding 30 GW AC solar till 2025 (see US Wants 40% Electricity From Solar By 2035).  

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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