What Is The Virginia Solar Intiative?

We aim to leverage the world-class research, expertise, and resources of the University of Virginia and deliver strategic and technical assistance to localities in order to reduce policy uncertainty related to the siting of renewable energy facilities in Virginia.

Solar Survey

Learn more about solar survey recently sent to planning directors in every Virginia county and city.

Someone completing a survey

View resources to help your locality understand and prepare for solar development.

Solar panels and pollinators

Learn more about the Virginia Solar Initiative, established to meet the solar needs of Virginia localities.

Solar Array with mountains in background

Why Virginia, Why Solar, Why Now?

Since 2015 Virginia has been experiencing exponential growth in the number and size of solar projects proposed and approved. This surge in demand brings new questions and complex and unique policy challenges. As such, the focus of the Virginia Solar Initiative is to help policy-makers navigate the solar landscape, conduct research, and develop tools and guidance related to the siting of solar and energy storage facilities.

The future of solar in Virginia is guided by recent policy actions, as written in the 2018 Grid Transformation and Security Act, Governor Northam’s Executive Order 43 in 2019, and in 2020 with the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Solar Freedom Bill and others.

The economics and falling cost of utility-scale solar make it the fastest growing segment of energy generation with vast potential to grow. It is widely recognized as a low carbon, affordable energy option, and there is high interest in developing generation and storage technologies to continue to reduce the cost and reliability associated with it.

Statewide economic development efforts have brought large corporate employers such as Amazon and Microsoft to Virginia, and with that comes their portfolio demands for clean energy and access to renewable energy purchasing options.

Combined, these forces have positioned Virginia to be at the forefront of a booming demand for solar energy. However, this demand brings many challenges and opportunities. The Weldon Cooper Center is leading the way by convening stakeholders, facilitating critical conversations, and developing key research initiatives and tools to help decision-makers adopt policies that will enable Virginia’s clean energy future.