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. In Nebraska, the reported projects include an operational major–scale solar project with a total capacity of 5,000 kilowatts (or 5 megawatts) and operational small–scale solar projects with a total capacity of 865.396 kilowatts (or 0.8 megawatt) totalling 5.9 megawatts.
[A major–scale project is 1 megawatt or more (or 1,000 kilowatts or more).]
- Lincoln Electric System’s solar center, a 5–megawatt (5,000–kilowatt) generation community solar project, is being built at Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets. Lincoln Electric System signed a power purchase agreement to buy the power from the solar energy farm. In summer 2015, LES approved project developer Coronal Development Services’ request for a six–month delay in the completion date to work through issues regarding financing and construction. Since that time, Coronal transferred the project to developer Enerparc, Inc. Construction commenced March 2016 with everything on target to be completed summer 2016.
(A small–scale project is under 1 megawatt (or 1,000 kilowatts). Nebraska's small–scale projects are listed below in the order of most kilowatts to least kilowatts.)
- A 200–kilowatt solar system consisting of 800 solar panels was installed on an abandoned parking lot in Central City. Property developer, Cliff Mesner, worked with several other local businesses and the city–owned utility to develop what is currently Nebraska’s largest solar array. In July, 2015, 100 kilowatts were completed.
- In 2010, an 85–kilowatt solar canopy was installed on the Cuming Street parking lot at Creighton University in partnership with the Omaha Public Power District. A second installation, a 20.5–kilowatt south–facing solar system, is atop the Kiewit Fitness Center.
- Located on a 13–acre tract, Omaha Public Power District’s Service Center at 5520 Lindbergh Drive boasts a 60–kilowatt array of solar panels, a 1.2–kilowatt vertical–axis wind turbine, and LED yard lighting. For its many innovative features, the Center was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation. Additional sustainability features include daylight harvesting, ground loop heat exchange, operational windows, occupancy sensors, white roofing material, use of recycled materials, water saving plumbing fixtures, pervious pavement, natural ground cover, storm water retention area, storm sewer inserts to mitigate oil spill threat–and more! OPPD incorporated these sustainability features to demonstrate their applicability, a benefit for customers interested in applying them in their homes and businesses.
- The Lincoln Electric System added 50 kilowatts of solar energy through a rooftop solar array commissioned in early December 2014 on the LES Walter A. Canney Service Center at 27th and Fairfield Streets in north Lincoln.
- At their Norfolk Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold 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 (147 panels). Photovoltaic energy supplies at least 7.5 percent of the facility's electricity needs. The rotating frame, which is programmed to automatically reset each day to the orientation of the rising sun, was fabricated by Behlen Manufacturing Company in Columbus, Nebraska.
- The University of Nebraska–Lincoln installed 162 photovoltaic solar panels (or approximately 39 kilowatts) on their animal science building. The system is located on the University's east campus. It was installed by Boyd Jones Construction.
- Rose Chiropractic Center in Aurora had a new roof installed along with 84 solar panels, each measuring 39 inches wide by 5–1/2 feet in length. Laid side by side and connected in a grid linked to what looks like a traditional electrical panel, the array atop Rose Chiropractic measures 70 by 22 feet. The 32–kilowatt system was installed by Ron Rose, the husband of the business owner Jo.
- Morrissey Engineering's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Building installed a 27–kilowatt photovoltaic system expansion on their building in Omaha.
- A 25–kilowatt solar–powered pivot irrigation system (100 panels) was installed on the Beller Farm near Lindsay.
- A 25–kilowatt solar photovoltaic system consisting of 96 solar panels mounted on two rows of gray metal frames was installed on the Hammond farm operation west of Benedict.
- A 25–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Scott Otley and Ruth Ann Thompson's home near Lincoln. Only 10 kilowatts are needed to net–zero their home so the rest of the power is sent back to the grid.
- A 23.5–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed in April 2015 on the Tribal Police & Fire Department Building in the Village of Winnebago in Northeast Nebraska.
- A 15–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Knopik farm near Belgrade.
- Thirty–six 305–watt solar panels, a total of 10.98–kilowatts, were installed on Tony Kruger's farm in Minatare.
- A 10.6–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Wayne and Janece Mollhoff's home and shop in Ashland. About half the power produced by the system should net–zero their home.
- In the summer of 2015, a 10–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Tim and Carol Hinkle's residence just east of Lincoln. The system is projected to provide over 15,000 kilowatthours of power per year, or around 70 percent of the home’s electrical requirements.
- The Lincoln Police Department's Center Team Station installed 40 solar panels (a 10–kilowatt photovoltaic system) in June 2013 on one of Lincoln's most energy–efficient buildings, with geothermal heating and cooling. The array faces south, on 27th and Holdrege Streets. The installation is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the electrical power needs for the building.
- A 9–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Helen and Art Tanderup farm near Neligh.
- Solar photovoltaic systems were installed on the Kleinschmit Hartington–area farm and ranch consisting of 36 panels totalling 9 kilowatts.
- A net–zero energy house in Omaha has a 8.6–kilowatt system that will result in net–zero energy consumption during the Omaha Public Power District's most expensive summer months of June to September.
- A 8.2–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on John and Cynthia Tiedeman's residence in the fall of 2014.
- An 8.16–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed in September 2012 on Cynthia and John's home in Ralston, with panels oriented to the west and south. There are 34 micro inverters.
- An 8–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Steve and Ardis Holland's garage/shop building.
- A 7.8–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Niemeyer Residence.
- A 7–kilowatt solar grid-tied system was installed on the Public Safety Building at 1510 Wall Street in Bellevue.
- A rooftop 6.9–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Bob’s garage in Northwest Lincoln.
- A 6–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Mathew's acreage.
- A rooftop 5.7–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Tim’s home in Lincoln.
- A 5.7–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Pipher's residence in Lincoln.
- A 5.3–kilowatt dual–axis tracking photovoltaic system was installed at the Total Manufacturing Company (TMCO) in the Haymarket District in Lincoln by SWT Energy Inc. and was funded in part by Lincoln Electric System’s sustainable energy program.
- Bob and Linda Kraft's home in Omaha has a 5–kilowatt photovoltaic system.
- A 5–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Meyer's acreage.
- A net–zero energy house in Gering has a residential 5–kilowatt photovoltaic system which generates enough electricity to make the home a net–zero energy house.
- 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 capacity for a total of 4.8 kilowatts. 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.
- The Jayne Snyder Trail Center is a feature of the Antelope Valley Union Plaza in the City of Lincoln. A 4.8–kilowatt solar energy system was installed on the roof of the Center. This installation should deliver up to half the regular electrical power needs of the building. The project was completed in 2012 by SWT Energy Incorporated.
- In March 2013, Doane College installed a 1.5–kilowatt photovoltaic system to offset the use of vampires circuits on campus and then, in July of 2014, added 3 kilowatts to this system for a total of 4.5 kilowatts.
- A 4.2–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems energy farm by Lyons.
- Eighteen (18) 230–watt (or 4.140–kilowatt) solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the south side of Darren and Karen's home roof in Omaha. The home also includes passive solar elements.
- A 4–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Mark’s roof on Capitol Beach in Lincoln.
- Dsouza's residence in Omaha has a 4–kilowatt photovoltaic system.
- Schantell's residence in Lincoln has a 4–kilowatt photovoltaic system.
- Bahensky's residence in Lincoln has a 4–kilowatt photovoltaic system.
- A rooftop 3.5–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Jessica’s house in South Lincoln.
- A solar hot water system was installed on a South Omaha Habitat for Humanity home in August 2014. The system is equivalent to a 3–kilowatt photovoltaic system or twelve 250–watt solar panels.
- Three (3) kilowatts were installed on Arnie and Marilyn's Papillion home consisting of eight south-facing panels on the side of the house and four on the roof. The system offsets the home’s power use during the day and charges a plug-in Chevrolet Volt every night, which is then driven on battery for pennies a mile.
- A 3–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on Dan Blum's residence in Schuyler.
- At the Hyde Memorial 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, Hyde Observatory Board, Lincoln Parks and Recreation, Information Analytics Incorporated, and Alltel. The 2.2–kilowatt photovoltaic system generated nearly 40 percent of the observatory's electricity needs in the first five years of operation. The photovoltaic system is designed to generate 2 kilowatts 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 the panels 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.
- A 2.12–kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Kerwood residence in Alexandria.
- Tim Michel's home in Lincoln has a 1.8–kilowatt photovoltaic system.
- The Lindenmuth residence in Clatonia has a 1.7–kilowatt photovoltaic system.
- Ravenna's solar and wind hybrid installation at their public school combines a 1.7–kilowatt wind turbine with a ground–mounted solar array.
- The City of Lincoln StarTran transit system had solar panels installed by Dixon Power Systems to one of their bus shelters. The bus shelter is located in the downtown Lincoln area near the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus. The system was installed to provide power to operate the LED message boards that display updates on bus route time information without the use of grid electricity (off grid). This 24–volt DC system produces 896 watts (0.896 kilowatt) of power and has 400 amp–hours of battery storage. This supports the bus shelter's operations from 6am – 7pm, six days per week, and 52 weeks per year.
Projects With No Details on Capacity
- Prairie Hill Learning Center in Rulo features straw bale construction, passive solar and photovoltaic panels, energy monitoring equipment, a 10–kilowatt wind turbine, low voltage light fixtures, recycled denim insulation, rain collection, and low–flow toilets.
- The Ho–Chunk Village Solar Development in Winnebago has a tracking photovoltaic solar energy system. The system was installed in 2010. A regular solar panel system was also installed on a subsidiary building in Ho–Chunk Village.
- Meristem Farm and Nursery's solar–heated greenhouse has 24 solar hot water panels to provide radiant heat to the greenhouse located in Papillion.
- Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands headquarters building in Chadron.
- Robert and Lori Fairchild.
- Robert and Linda Kraft.
- TD Ameritrade's LEED Platinum headquarters building in Omaha.
Proposed Projects That May Not Be Constructed
- Nebraska Public Power District is exploring the possibility of building 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.
Note: Private solar projects operating under Nebraska's net–metering statutes are included in the totals in Nebraska's Net Metering Reports. Although projects are not individually listed to provide the power source, the majority of net–metering projects could be assumed to be solar.
For more information, see Operational Electric Generating Units.