Chesapeake experts focus on solar power’s stormwater footprint
Whitney Pipkin reports for the Chesapeake Bay Journal that rain dripping off solar panels can produce a unique type of runoff — one the scientific community is playing catch-up to quantify as the solar industry rapidly expands its footprint.
In a nutshell:
Solar panel coverage in Virginia has doubled in the past five years and shows no sign of slowing down. Along with that growth, legitimate concerns have surfaced regarding the permitting and regulating of site preparation beneath solar panels. Should solar farms be considered pervious or impervious? The panels themselves are clearly impervious to water but what lies below can be almost anything. The science is challenging, the politics are bedeviling and regulations are running behind. You might say it's a rapidly changing landscape.
“We are talking about one of the largest land use changes ever in Virginia in a short period of time,” said Mike Rolband, director of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.
Stormwater management of solar installations should be approached as a critical element of their design and operation and follow clear, enforceable regulations for consistency, say scientists. Effective stormwater strategy for solar farms, rather than being treated as an afterthought, should begin with site selection and preparation and continue as part of routine maintenance and monitoring. Proper stormwater management can minimize the impact on local ecosystems, reduce erosion and contribute to a more sustainable energy infrastructure. Read the full story in the Chesapeake Bay Journal.