Solar Energy Generation (Utility–Scale) in Nebraska
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:
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 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.