Wake up to clear skies after an extended period of cloudy, overcast cold winter days and it’s no surprise that many people find their spirits lifted. Sunshine can have that kind of a positive impact.
Probably much more so in the months and years ahead given the interest in solar energy projects in Northeast Nebraska.
With this corner of the state already boasting a large number of wind farms, solar power is on its way to becoming the latest growing force in renewable energy.
The City of Norfolk continues its planning for its pilot solar project — to be located near the city’s well fields — with the Nebraska Public Power District.
The Madison County commissioners recently approved conditional-use permits for a pair of small solar farms. SunVest Solar of Geneva, Illinois, is behind the two commercial projects — one south of Norfolk and the other north of Battle Creek. The company is working with the Elkhorn Rural Public Power District in regard to purchasing the energy generated.
The biggest project — by far —– is the plan by Aaron and Ryan Zimmerman to turn 2,500 acres of Pierce County farmland into a massive solar farm operated by NextEra Energy. A purchaser of the energy generated is still being sought.
Chances are that these won’t be the only solar energy projects being proposed and built in this corner of the state. SunVest Solar, for example, already is working on a project in Antelope County.
But even with all the advancements and improved technology that now is incorporated into solar panels and related equipment, the fact remains — as Northeast Nebraskans well know — the sun doesn’t always shine
Fixed solar energy projects are estimated to be operating up to 20 percent of the time. Those with articulating panels — that allow them to move according to the sun’s position, much like sunflowers do — can increase that to 25 percent or so.
That’s why — even with our support for solar energy development and wind power, too — it’s important to continue to appreciate traditional sources of energy generation, like natural gas.
With its technological improvements, natural gas is in abundant supply, readily available and reasonably priced.
Other sources of electricity generated and made available through the state’s public power districts are another vital element in ensuring Nebraska’s well-being.
It’s important and beneficial to diversify energy sources. This corner of the state should be pleased and grateful to have this kind of an energy mix to rely on.