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There’s trouble brewing for clean energy developers looking to build in communities across the country. A new analysis found that more than 200 U.S. localities have placed restrictions on building renewables, while hundreds more projects are facing strong opposition from communities worried about aesthetics, land use and other concerns.
But as those tensions grow, 16.4 billion cumulative square feet of space are sitting untapped and ready for solar panels — and those clean energy arrays wouldn’t ruin any town’s rural charm. That’s because all that space is available on warehouse roofs across the country, according to a report from Environment America Research & Policy Center.
Putting solar panels on the roofs of warehouses and distribution centers just makes sense, the report argues. They’re flat, get a lot of sun, and are located right on top of businesses that tend to use a lot of electricity. Plus, the number of warehouses in the U.S. is quickly growing, with thousands more acres under construction as of last year.
If all those roofs were covered in panels, they could produce enough clean electricity each year to power more than 19.4 million homes, researchers estimated. That’s more power than warehouses would need, so owners could sell their excess power to help neighboring communities lower their bills.
Read more about the report’s findings — and especially what they mean for Illinois — at the Energy News Network.
More clean energy news
📝 Permitting reform progress: President Biden signed a debt ceiling bill that includes energy permitting reforms but lacks provisions to boost transmission construction, leaving some Democratic lawmakers skeptical whether there’s a path forward on strengthening the power grid. (Politico, E&E News)
- 👀 Read more: The deal authorizes a years-long study of U.S. interconnection needs, but grid experts say it’s unnecessary and could delay action to address already clear transmission needs. (Canary Media)
🌎 Historic carbon levels: The Earth’s atmosphere saw one of its largest year-over-year increases in carbon dioxide levels this May, marking a record not seen in millions of years, federal scientists found. (Washington Post)
🏘️ Like a good neighbor? State Farm’s withdrawal from California highlights a larger trend of insurance companies raising rates or outright refusing to sell coverage in areas threatened by climate change. (E&E News, New York Times)
📈 IRA’s big clean energy wins: Nearly 100 new clean energy manufacturing projects have been announced since the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage last year, with some of the biggest investments going toward battery plants in the Southeast and Midwest. (Canary Media)
📉 … and struggles: Many cities and local governments lack the expertise and staff capacity to apply for their share of federal clean energy funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. (Inside Climate News)
💧 What are hydrogen hubs hiding? Major environmental groups and local organizations say the Biden administration is shielding its $8 billion clean hydrogen program from public scrutiny, leaving communities unsure of how planned hydrogen hubs will affect them. (Inside Climate News)
- Energy Accountant/Auditor | Snohomish County, Washington
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