In this week’s news roundup, we discuss an exciting new use for utility scale solar, and an important initiative by the Biden administration to help underserved communities gain access to solar power.
Department of Energy announces 15.5 million dollar plan to increase solar accessibility across the United States
Earlier this month, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to address barriers to solar Deployment and increase focus on expanding access to clean energy for low- and moderate-income communities. The plan is a part of the Biden administration’s larger energy plan, which focuses on achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2050 by fostering domestic clean energy growth and addressing environmental justice initiatives.
The recent announcement builds upon the existing framework set earlier this year by providing funding for the following initiatives:
- 10 million for SolSmart, an organization which provides no-cost assistance to cities, counties, and regional organizations that are interested in lowering energy costs by installing solar arrays. As a part of this initiative, SolSmart will now expand focus to rural and low- to moderate-income communities.
- 5.5 million for the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). This organization connects utilities, state and local governments, community-based organizations, and system operators to technical experts from the DOE. This program is designed to help address logistical and technical challenges that municipalities face when trying to go solar.
When discussing the rationale behind the recent investments, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm stated: “Solar energy is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest paths to President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035—and now, it’s time to double down on our efforts to make those benefits available to communities in every pocket of the country. These new initiatives and funding will jumpstart a long-overdue conversation around how DOE can leverage solar energy’s explosive growth to create solutions and jobs that lift up Americans who have been left behind, and create a future filled with JEDI.” Note: “JEDI” stands for Jobs and Economic Development Impact.
Utility-scale solar array in Montana used to mine cryptocurrency
The Montana Standard recently reported that the Montana-based company Madison River Equity sought a permit for a solar installation to fuel its cryptocurrency mining. Madison River equity is a subsidiary of FX solutions, which established the data center where Madison River Equity operates. The proposed solar system, if approved, would have 700,000 panels, and produce enough electricity to power roughly 40,000 homes. The system would also occupy 1,600-acres, and would feature a 1,500-foot corridor for wildlife to pass through.
The new array is intended to fuel an expansion of Madison River Equity operations. Mining cryptocurrency is a notoriously energy intensive process, and the array would offer Madison River Equity energy redundancy as well as the opportunity to minimize its environmental impact.