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New VA Solar Survey Finds “Virginia is on a path of clean energy transition”

“The growth of large-scale solar has become an important consideration for many Virginia localities"


Hot off the (virtual) presses:

“The Virginia Department of Energy and the Virginia Solar Initiative developed and conducted a statewide survey to better understand the barriers that local governments and localities face in implementing solar development. The first of its kind in Virginia, the Virginia Solar Survey is a comprehensive questionnaire that collects data on solar readiness, policy, and solar and energy storage experience. The survey was distributed online to all 95 counties and all 38 independent cities in Virginia between July 13 and August 13, 2021.”

See below for key findings, including:

  • Virginia is on a path of clean energy transition, which includes increased energy efficiency, electrification of energy services, continued nuclear energy generation and deployment of various renewable energy sources such as offshore wind, energy storage and solar energy technology. Solar development will play an increasing role in delivering low-cost reliable energy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and meeting increased demand for renewable energy. Market forces, demand for renewable energy and policy will continue to drive solar development.”
  • Over the past five years, Virginia has seen rapid growth in solar energy development due to a variety of global, national and regional factors. Fortune 500 companies and major cities alike are rapidly shifting their energy procurement strategies to prefer renewable energy as they make public commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift their carbon footprint to low or zero-carbon goals. Global costs of solar energy have also dropped dramatically as demand increases worldwide.”
  • “The widespread increase in distributed generation solar development is reflected in the fact that local governments are actively reviewing and updating their local distributed generation solar policies and permitting processes.”
    “The growth of large-scale solar has become an important consideration for many Virginia localities, but rural communities in the Central and Southside regions have been the most likely to have experience with large-scale solar and to have updated their solar policies.”
    • “For large-scale solar, localities collectively had the most interest in the local economic benefits and the physical development impacts on features such as agricultural land, cultural resources and soil.”
    • “Statewide, if localities have updated their local solar policies, they have been more likely to directly address large-scale solar than distributed generation solar.”
    • “Local governments have been more likely to address large-scale solar using conditional use permits/special use permits and the zoning ordinance, and are not as likely to specifically address large-scale solar in the comprehensive plan.”
    • “Localities have been most likely to turn to other local governments for assistance and information gathering.”
    • “Some local governments have taken action to install solar on public property, but it remains an opportunity for additional growth.”
    • “Regional differences help to inform local governments’ experiences with solar and their interests for future assistance and guidance.”



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