New report details rapid growth, continued potential for solar

posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 in Energy News


Matt Hauge
Communications & Outreach Director
Office:  515-244-1194, x210

Nathaniel Baer
Energy Program Director
Cell: 319-321-8449

New report details rapid growth,
continued potential for solar energy in Iowa

DES MOINES - Already a national leader in renewable wind energy, Iowa also has the potential to be a leader in solar photovoltaic (PV) energy production, according to a new report by the Iowa Environmental Council.  The amount of solar energy Iowa could reasonably produce ranks 16th in the nation, and improvements in solar technology along with years of falling prices are helping build momentum in the budding industry.

“Customers are excited about solar energy, and it is showing up in many diverse settings—at farms, business, universities, utilities, and at homes around the state,” said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director at the Iowa Environmental Council.  “As interest in solar energy grows, we wanted to share an overview of the role this energy source can play in the mix of energy options Iowa has.”

The Council’s report, Real Potential, Ready Today:  Solar Energy in Iowa, explains how in addition to providing useful energy, solar PV offers many other benefits:  job creation, consumer savings, cleaner air and water, innovation and technology investment, and improved stability in the electric grid.

“Iowans can rely on solar energy when demand is at its highest, during hot, sunny afternoons, and solar PV can provide substantial energy all year long.  In fact, considering factors like land use constraints and available sunlight, Iowa’s solar electric potential actually outranks states like Georgia, Utah, and South Carolina,” Baer said.

The report highlights several prominent Iowa solar installations including a 280 kilowatt array—currently the state’s largest—at Luther College in Decorah. Other featured examples include a 40 kilowatt array installed by pork producer Allan Mallie on his farm near Lisbon, Iowa, and a 150 kilowatt array on a distribution center near Peosta, Iowa, that is cutting both carbon emissions and energy costs for Colony Brands, Inc.  The report also explains some of the public policy options used in Iowa and around the country to encourage development of solar energy.

Major funding for the publication was provided by the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University.