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Photo: Shezamm/creative commons

Large-scale solar power has been taking off in North Carolina, with Duke Energy’s recent RFP for 300MW of new solar quickly getting over subscribed. Still, “large-scale” is a relative term. Many of the solar farms being built in North Carolina are somewhere in the 1 to 10 MW range right now—with Apple’s Catawba County 20MW installation being an outlier. But the Charlotte Observer reports that Asheville-based Innovative Solar Systems is looking to leverage economies of scale, filing applications for 12 solar farms of between 25 and 80 megawatts, mostly located in Eastern North Carolina:

Farms of that size would require hundreds of acres of leased land and negotiated interconnection and power-purchase agreements with utilities. If all of the proposed ISS projects were built, the farms would have a total capacity of 620 megawatts, compared with the 750-megawatt capacity of the new natural gas-fired power plant Duke Energy will build in South Carolina.

As the Observer article notes, such massive farms will require significant areas of land. It’s worth noting, however, that recent research from England suggests large-scale solar power plants can be managed in a way that enhances, not hinders, local wildlife and biodiversity, and even sequesters soil carbon too.