South Portland, ME, has broken ground on what will eventually be the state's largest municipally owned solar farm, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The 1.2-megawatt project will feature 2,944 solar panels installed across 34 acres of a closed landfill and will be able to generate 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year, following completion in September.
The energy produced works out to 12% of the power needed to operate city schools and municipal buildings.
Maine isn't the only state that's upping its stake in the solar energy game — other states, as well as municipalities, are adopting renewable energy to become more sustainable and to reduce energy costs over time.
In June, crews broke ground on the largest solar farm in Missouri. The 72-acre project, developed by Gardner Capital in Nixa, MO, will have 33,288 solar panels generating enough energy to power 1,800 homes — about 9% of the city's total energy requirements. The solar farm will reduce the city's carbon footprint and save it approximately $2.5 million over the next 25 years.
Tesla has said the solar farm atop its $5 billion battery gigafactory outside of Reno, NV, is also a record-breaker in the solar market. The company maintains that its planned 70-megawatt solar array will be the largest rooftop installation in the world, at seven times the size of the next-biggest array. Tesla said the solar farm will be able to power the entire plant, which will be a net-zero energy building, with excess energy stored via the company's Powerpack storage product.
Some cities are going so far as to make solar mandatory for some residential projects. This week, South Miami, FL, officials approved an ordinance that requires new homes without adequate shade, in addition to some undergoing renovations, to install 175 square feet of photovoltaics (PV) for every 1,000 square feet of roof area. South Miami joins the ranks of the California cities of Lancaster, Sebastopol, Santa Monica and San Francisco in enacting mandatory PV regulations.
While solar is gaining in popularity, it's not without its challenges. Inexperienced workers, according to Replacement Contractor, have entered the field, raising the risk of substandard installation. Such installers have been credited with damaging roofs by dragging heavy solar panels and equipment across them, leaving some homeowners with hefty bills from roof warranty issues.