ENERGY 588: A Practical Introduction to Solar Energy Project Development in The U.S.

Spring 2024

Instructor: Luana Lima, Scott Newell Starr

While most of the electricity in the U.S. is generated using fossil based fuels, there is growing demand for power from renewable sources. Market factors and societal pressures are pushing electric utilities to consider, and in some cases, embrace renewable power generation throughout the U.S. Increased regulatory costs threaten the coal industry, while public awareness of climate change drives corporations and municipalities to demand clean electricity. Meanwhile the installed cost of solar and wind power has plummeted over the last ten years. In this course, we will explore these drivers of change while examining how utility-scale solar energy projects are built.

The intent is to provide a practical introduction to the process of developing utility-scale solar projects in the U.S. by examining the major players and steps in a complex process. Students will learn that professionals with expertise in law, engineering, real estate, public policy, regulation, finance, environmental consulting, and construction must work together over a period of years to get a solar generation facility built. The class will cover project siting, how site control is established, and how land use permitting can affect timelines and budgets. We will explore how utilities oversee the interconnection study process, and why uncertainties related to this can make project management difficult. Students will learn about the necessary real estate due diligence steps required to satisfy investors, including title, environmental and cultural resource assessments. The course will touch on how states regulate the construction of power generation facilities and will explore the financing mechanisms commonly used to provide the capital required to construct a facility. Students will learn the roles of the major stakeholders involved with the development process, with a focus on the “Developer.”

  • ENVIRON 588-01
Curriculum Codes