Published first on the Progress News, January 17, 2022
Continuing the conversation from last week, let’s look at a few more redevelopment opportunities in the field of solar energy. From conventional residential solar panels to research on new gizmos and gadgets, there is quite a bit coming up with which homeowners, landowners, business owners, organizations, and institutions can get involved! Just as the great names of this region did over a century ago, we are intent on finding the best possible ways to link new and emerging technologies with our copious natural resources. We are also intent on utilizing our resources responsibly and equitably, so that the benefit we can realize for our communities now does not jeopardize the resilience and prosperity of future generations.
The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is one resource that allows us to maximize the potential benefit of any energy-related redevelopment works we undertake. SETO, a division of the Department of Energy, “supports early-stage research and development to improve the flexibility and performance of solar technologies that contribute to a reliable and resilient U.S. electric grid.” Key investments for SETO are the construction of additional solar arrays, improvements to energy storage, and strategies to lower overall solar electricity costs, especially when performed cooperatively between private businesses, private and public institutions and organizations, and local and regional government.
Key for the ORA and our regional coalition partners is to help foster a strong and resilient regional renewable energy industry. This means finding opportunities for our research institutions to take increasingly more prominent positions in the development of improved or entirely new technologies, to create training programs and job opportunities for individuals interested in learning these new skills, and entrepreneurship opportunities for regional businesses looking to start, shift, or diversify. This strategy is worked into every aspect of our redevelopment program, so that as many opportunities as possible are planned into every project.
Some of our projects are focused heavily on one aspect, such as the creation of solar grazing arrays which can either provide power for a specific commercial, industrial, or institutional customer, or feed into the regional grid. Even these single-focus projects, though, will provide opportunities for training, employment, and entrepreneurship. Other projects are multi-faceted by design, such as the mixed-use redevelopment of the Fuchs facility in Emlenton. These projects purposely provide prospects for a bevy of new businesses mixed in together with research, recreation, and reconnection, and on-site renewable power generation, such as solar, will always be an integral part of any ORA project. The design for the redeveloped Fuchs site, for instance, includes solar panels and vertical wind turbines as both practical and aesthetic amendments to the structure.
If you are interested in seeing how your business, organization, or institution can take part in the work ahead, now is the time to get in touch, while we are developing business plans and grant applications for funding bodies such as SETO. The future starts now, and we can all be a part of it!