According to a sun index developed for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) using data provided by NREL's Renewable Resource Data Center, Nebraska is ranked thirteenth in the nation with the greatest energy potential from solar power. Nebraska has operational solar panels with a total capacity of 52.4 kilowatts. The panels are located on three sites:
- Nebraska Public Power District is planning to build a solar energy pilot project in Scottsbluff. The project may be a 100–kilowatt farm providing enough electricity for about 20 homes. A power purchase agreement has not been signed yet.
- The Holdrege Solar Center is planning to build, own, and operate a 5–megawatt generation plant at Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets. Lincoln Electric System has signed a power purchase agreement buy the power from the solar energy farm. Construction and commercial operation is scheduled for this year.
- At their Norfolk Operations Center, the Nebraska Public Power District started generating electricity in August, 2010, from a Suncarrier solar array with a capacity of 45.6 kilowatts. Photovoltaic energy supplies at least 7.5 percent of the facility's electricity needs.
- The Elkhorn Service Center, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, started generating electricity from two solar photovoltaic panels on June 13, 2002. The electricity is consumed by a small facility located at the Elkhorn Service Center and offsets only a small portion of the electricity the Center needs. Each of the two panels is rated at 2.4 kilowatts (kW) capacity. The panels have a capacity factor of 14 to 15 percent. The unused capacity could have been due to being out of service, operating at reduced output for part of the time due to equipment failures, or routine maintenance. Most likely the panels were capable of producing electricity, but its fuel, sunlight, was not available.
- At the Hyde Observatory, solar panels began generating electricity at 2:02 p.m. CST on March 13, 2003. The project is a joint venture of Lincoln Electric System and Hyde Memorial Observatory.
- The PV system is designed to generate 2 kW of electricity producing about half of the observatory's annual electrical needs. The solar panels will produce electricity during daylight hours and pass that electricity to an output meter where it is then placed back into Lincoln's electric grid. The system will operate at maximum production during the daytime when the observatory's energy use is at a minimum.
- The PV system replaces an older, passive solar heating system that had begun to deteriorate after 25 years of service. Unlike the old system, which generated only heat energy, the new PV system generates electricity to power the observatory and feeds any excess or unused electricity into Lincoln's grid.
- The panels are designed to withstand the impact of a one–inch hailstone, and they carry a 20–year warranty. Lincoln Electric System funded the system as a demonstration project. Additional project partners include Information Analytics who is installing the computers and web interface, and Alltel who has agreed to provide a DSL service to the observatory.
For more information, see Operational Electric Generating Units.