The state of Georgia is a case study in how renewable energy might be able to grow, under the right circumstances, without political mandates. Dalton, Georgia, a manufacturing town on the north side of the state, is host to a solar panel assembly plant for South Korean company Hanwha. Georgia’s thousands of acres of farmland, particularly in the sunny southwest part of the state, make prime real estate for solar projects. One rancher, who has been practicing sustainable ranching on his own land for 20 years, is actually partnering with a solar farm to practice sustainable grazing on the solar farm’s land, looking to gain carbon sequestration in the soil.
Other farmers in the area, climate change skeptics, have made land deals with the solar farm simply because it makes economic sense for them to do so. In other words, money is becoming an important factor in the switch to renewable energy. Renewables are, in some cases, the cheapest form of energy generation because of the high demand for them. In Georgia’s case, Facebook is building a data center in the state and wants to use solar power for it. Data centers require so much electricity that the electric co-op providing Facebook’s energy will jump from using less than 1% renewables in their mix to over 15%, just from the data center coming online.
If nothing else, Georgia’s many projects are proof that renewables can compete on their own terms in the energy market, and beat out both coal and natural gas as prices for renewables continue to drop and demand rises.
Read the full article, from NPR, here.