Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 36

GEORGIA'S Energy Outlook

By Alan C. Shedd

SOONTHORN WONGSAITA / SHUTTERSTOCK

Georgia-grown renewable energy

N

ow that we are in the heat of summer-
with days of extended daylight-it's worth
noting that sunshine is an increasingly
important part of Georgia's energy supply. Georgia's electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) are
involved in generating solar power and making it
available to their members. Though Georgia lacks
the abundant sunshine of the southwestern U.S., the
combination of rising solar-panel efficiency, falling
prices, low interest rates and available low-cost, flat
rural land has allowed solar power development to
grow rapidly. Georgia now ranks 11th in the country
in installed solar capacity.
Solar power is just one of several forms of
renewable energy. Hydroelectric power, methane gas
from landfills, waste wood from construction and
forest management and wind power are all used to
produce electricity.
The use of renewable sources of energy to heat
homes and businesses is not a new idea. Capturing
heat from the sun to help warm a dwelling dates back
to prehistoric times, when humans discovered that a
south-facing cave let in the sun during the winter.
Using solar and wind power to generate electricity is a little more recent. More than 100 years ago,
heat from the sun was harnessed to produce steam
to turn an electric generator. In 1954, the first
photovoltaic cell to generate electricity directly
from sunlight was patented. The first effective wind
turbine was a battery-charging machine installed in
Scotland in 1887. In the 1930s, small wind turbines
provided electricity for farms across the Midwest.
Today, electricity from renewable sources is a
growing part of our national energy mix.
In 2001, Georgia's electric co-ops joined forces
to form Green Power EMC, a nonprofit corporation

36

Georgia Magazine

July 2019

As of 2018,
electricity
generated by
the sun
represented
87 percent of
the 283 MW
of renewable
energy Green
Power EMC
members
generate-
enough
renewable
energy to
serve 38,000
homes, while
reducing
carbon
dioxide
emissions by
416,000
metric tons.

that facilitates production and awareness of clean,
home-grown energy. Initially, the most cost-effective
source of green power was methane gas from
decomposing waste at landfill sites. This gas is collected, treated and used as fuel for an engine-driven
generator. Additional energy resources-including
a low-impact hydroelectric plant and a wood-waste
boiler plant-were added. Several small-scale solar
systems also were installed for educational and
experimental purposes at local schools.
By 2010, the economics of utility-scale solar had
improved. Green Power EMC collaborated with an
industrial real estate firm to install a 12,000-squarefoot, 115-kilowatt system on the roof of an existing
building. From there, projects became larger and
more numerous. The Hazlehurst 20-megawatt (MW)
solar farm in Jeff Davis County was completed in
2014. It covers 135 acres with 87,000 solar modules
capable of generating enough power for more than
2,600 EMC households.
As of 2018, electricity generated by the sun represented 87 percent of the 283 MW of renewable energy Green Power EMC members generate-enough
renewable energy to serve 38,000 homes, while
reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 416,000 metric
tons. This is equivalent to the carbon absorbed by
500,000 acres of trees for one year. An additional
670 MW of new capacity will be complete by 2022.
Interest in renewable sources of energy continues to grow. Georgia's EMCs are always looking for
innovative ways to harness renewable energy and
deliver it to their members cost-effectively.
What can homeowners do to utilize renewable
energy? Find out in our next article.
Alan C. Shedd is the director of sustainability for
Tucker-based Oglethorpe Power Corp.



Georgia Magazine - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2019

Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 4
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 5
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 6
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 7
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 8
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 9
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 10
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 11
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 12
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 13
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 14
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 15
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 16
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 17
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 18
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 19
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 20
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 21
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 22
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 23
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 24
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 25
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 26
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 27
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 28
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 29
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 30
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 31
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 32
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 33
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 34
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 35
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 36
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 37
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 38
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 39
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 40
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 41
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 42
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 43
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 44
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 45
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 46
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover4
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