Increasing interest in renewable energy is attracting developers to the Tidewater area as a site for solar energy farms.
King William officials approved conditional permits late last year for a solar farm spanning 250 acres along Etna Mills Road.
Now, a Richmond-based solar power developer is eyeing two parcels of land along New Kent Highway for the site of a solar farm.
Developer Virginia Solar LLC recently applied for a conditional use permit to build the solar farm on two parcels of agricultural land in Barhamsville.
The 20-megawatt solar farm is anticipated to cost $38 million to $40 million to build, according to Virginia Solar representative Matthew Meares.
The developer plans to lease 250 acres between the two properties, which are owned by the Gilman and Walker families. The Gilman property lies on the west side of New Kent Highway, and the Walker property on the east.
If built, the farm will generate enough electricity to power 4,500 homes on average annually, Meares said.
“Solar power projects have high initial capital costs, but once the project is installed, you don’t have to pay for fuel prices,” Virginia Solar representative Theo De Wolff said. “Power companies need to diversify themselves and use solar, gas and nuclear power.”
Solar farms consist of hundreds of photovoltaic cells which convert sunlight into energy. The energy is then sold to utility companies, like Dominion, which in turn sells the power back to customers on its grid.
Solar farms are seen as cleaner forms of energy than coal because they do not produce carbon emissions and are low maintenance. The farms, however, need hundreds of acres and are limited on cloudy days.