#8 Solar Farms

Ruth Auerbach • 6 October 2019

Sector: Energy Generation

Projected CO2 Reduction by 2050 (GT): 36.0

Net Cost: -$80.6 Billion

Net Savings: $5.02 Trillion


Q1: Why did I choose this solution? Why is it interesting to me?

A1: First, I am interested in becoming a subscriber.  Second, there is currently Legislation at the Howard County Council to delay approvals for new Solar Farms.  Third, it is in Drawdown's top ten solutions.


Q2: Briefly describe the solution and how it works?

A2: Solar farms consist of hundreds, thousands, or millions of photovoltaic [PV] solar panels in large-scale arrays that will operate at the scale of a conventional power plant but have far less emissions.


Q3: According to the IMPACT described for this solution, how does the Project Drawdown model [PDm] assume the solution will scale by 2050?  What opportunities or challenges do I see for meeting that target?

A3: PDm predicts that 10% of global energy production will be from solar farms in 2050.  Opportunities: cleaner and cheaper energy and jobs in the solar industry.  Challenges: NIMBYism (see Howard County legislation) and the technical challenge of intermittent electricity generation, meaning solar panels don't produce electricity at night and little electricity on cloudy days.


Q4: What are the co-benefits and/or disadvantages of this solution beyond reducing carbon dioxide levels?

A4: Co-benefits: Cleaner air, cheaper electricity, economic opportunities that result.  Disadvantages: mining of quartz necessary to create PV panels, competition for space and resources with agricultural land parcels, energy is only produced during the day and primarily on sunny days. 


Q5: How and where is this solution already in operation?

A5: In 2015, at least 227 gigawatts of total solar PV had be been built.  Many regional markets have utility-scale solar farms.


Q6: What makes this solution super cool?

A6: Clean, cheap energy.


Q7: Anything else interesting to note or share?

A7: Howard County Council member David Yungmann has two bills at the Ho Co Council to delay approvals for solar farms.  The first, CB55-2019, will delay approvals of solar farms for a year in areas zoned as Rural Conservation and Rural Residential, with the justification that Gov Hogan has created the Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting which is expected to be proposing new legislation regarding solar farms in the 2020 Maryland Legislative Session.  The second, CR133-2019, seeks to create a task force for Howard County to further investigate issues and concerns regarding solar farms.


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