Solar power in Michigan

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Red-tailed hawk at University of Michigan NCRC solar array

Solar power in Michigan has been growing in recent years due to new technological improvements and a variety of regulatory actions and financial incentives, particularly a 30% federal tax credit, available for any size project. Although among the lowest U.S. states for solar irradiance, Michigan mostly lies farther south than Germany where solar power is heavily deployed. Michigan is expected to use 120 TWh per year in 2030. To reach a 100% solar electrical grid would require 2.4% of Michigan's land area to host 108 GW of installed capacity.[1]

According to the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state had an estimated 27 MW of solar capacity as of the end of 2014.[2]

Solar farms[edit]

In July 2012, Michigan's largest rooftop array, 977.6 kW, was installed in Canton on the IKEA store.[3] Ford Motor Company and DTE Energy built the largest solar plant in the state, a 1.04 MW solar car port at Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan in 2015.[4][5] In 2015, DTE built a 1.1 MW solar farm at Domino's Farms near Ann Arbor, slightly larger than the Ford carport.[6] The IKEA store announced an expansion of its existing array in 2015 to bring it to 1.2 MW.[7] A 1.95 MW solar farm at DTE's Greenwood Energy Center near St. Clair came online in January 2016.[8] Indiana Michigan Power, in November 2016, opened a 4.6 MW solar farm near Watervliet.[9][10]

A 1.4 MW solar farm is planned by American Municipal Power at a brownfield site in Coldwater and expected to be online in 2016.[11]

In late 2015, DTE began construction on two solar farms in Lapeer County: a 30 MW farm and a 15 MW solar farm with completion expected in 2016.[12] These would be the first large utility-scale solar farms in the state, with the larger covering 200 acres of land and the smaller one covering 100 acres.[13] In March 2016, DTE got approval for a 2MW solar farm to be built in a closed park in Detroit.[14]

Fort Custer began construction in May 2015 of a 0.25 MW solar farm with plans for a second 0.3 MW farm later.[15] This is part of the U.S. military's renewable energy goals of 25% renewables by 2025. In 2017, a project was announced for Fort Custer that would be a microgrid consisting of a 1.375 MW diesel system, 0.720 MW solar PV array, and a 0.400 MW energy storage system.[16] Camp Grayling has a small 0.02 MW installation on one building roof while Selfridge Air National Guard Base had no solar power by 2014.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light is planning a 20 MW project that would almost double the amount of solar power in the state.[17] In September 2015, Michigan State University approved solar car ports that would cover 5 parking lots and have a total of 15 MW(DC) of power, expected to be completed by the end of 2017.[18][19]

Community solar[edit]

In 2015, several community solar projects were proposed. Consumers Power built a 3 MW solar farm at Grand Valley State University, completed April 2016, which became the largest solar farm in Michigan.[20] Consumers Power also built a 1 MW community solar project at Western Michigan University, completed in August 2016.[21][22] Spartan Solar, a 1.2 MW installation in Cadillac, was built by Wolverine Power Cooperative in fall 2016, the largest solar plant in Northern Michigan.[23] Two 0.3 MW community solar farms are proposed by Lansing BWL, one in East Lansing and one in Lansing.[24] DTE Energy has issued proposals for community solar farms that could reach 50 MW.[25]

Distributed solar[edit]

Distributed solar is not widely used in Michigan with 2,289 installations totally 17,000 kW, providing 0.02% of the state's electricity, as of 2015.[26]

Solar industry[edit]

Michigan was ranked 14th among U.S. states for solar jobs in 2013.[27]

In 2002, Stanford R. Ovshinsky built a factory in Auburn Hills, Michigan to build low cost Uni-Solar panels using amorphous semiconductors that generate power in diffuse light.[28] Uni-Solar became the second largest manufacturer of thin film solar cells, after First Solar, and a developer of solar shingles before going bankrupt in 2012.[29][30]

Suniva opened a solar panel factory in Saginaw, Michigan in 2014, capable of producing 200MW of panels per year.[31]

Government policy[edit]

The Government of Michigan has taken a variety of actions in order to encourage solar energy use within the state.

Net metering[edit]

The state has a net metering program that allows installations of up to 20 kW of on-site electrical generation to continuously roll over any excess generation to the next month. Participation is limited to 0.75% of utilities peak demand the prior year.[32] Peak demand for the state for 2011 was 21,477 MW.[33]

Renewable portfolio standard[edit]

The state adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2008 which required that 10% of Michigan's electricity come from renewable resources by 2015.[34] This standard was met mostly by wind power. A program to add 2 MW of distributed solar by Consumers Energy customers was reached in two weeks, and the state directed the company to offer another 2 MW at a cost not to exceed $20 million.[35]

In December 2016, a new energy policy was adopted which calls for 12.5% renewable power by 2019 and 15% by 2021. It further calls for power suppliers to "obtain at least 35% of the State’s electric needs through energy waste reduction and renewable energy by 2025."[36]

Installed capacity[edit]

Michigan Grid-Connected PV Capacity (MW)[2][37][38][39][40][41][42][43]
Year Capacity Change  % Change
2007 0.4
2008 0.4
2009 0.7 0.3 75%
2010 2.6 1.9 271%
2011 8.8 6.2 238%
2012 19.9 11.1 126%
2013 22.6 2.7 14%
2014 27.2 4.6 20%
2015 NA NA
2016 35.4

Largest systems[edit]

Systems of 0.5 MW and larger

Name Location Size (MW) Notes
Watervliet Watervliet 4.6 Indiana Michigan Power
Solar Garden 1 Grand Valley State University 3.00 Consumers Energy, community solar[44]
Greenwood Energy Center Avoca 1.95 DTE Energy[45]
Canton IKEA Canton 1.22

[46] [47]

Spartan Solar Cadillac 1.20 Wolverine Power, community solar[48]
Domino's Farms Ann Arbor 1.08 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Ford World Headquarters Dearborn 1.04 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Western Michigan University Kalamazoo 1.0 Consumer Energy Solar Gardens program
GM Warren Transmission Warren 0.9 DTE Energy SolarCurrents[49]
Highland Cemetery Ypsilanti 0.84 [50]
McPhail Wixom 0.82 DTE Energy SolarCurrents[51]
Romulus Solar Romulus 0.75 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
University of Michigan Ann Arbor 0.67 DTE Energy SolarCurrents, 2 locations[52]
Thumb Solar Caro 0.66 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Heliotek Holland 0.525 [53]
GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Hamtramck 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents[54]
Ford Michigan Assembly Wayne 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Hartland Schools Hartland 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Liepprandt Orchard Pigeon 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents[55]
Monroe County Community College Monroe 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Indian Springs Metropark White Lake 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Riopelle Farms Harbor Beach 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
St. Clair RESA Marysville 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monroe 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Brownstown Solar Taylor 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents
Wil Le Farms Bad Axe 0.5 DTE Energy SolarCurrents

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michigan Renewable Resource Assessment, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation for Michigan Public Service Commission, April 2015
  2. ^ a b Net Metering & Solar Program Report For Calendar Year 2014, Michigan Public Service Commission, August 2015 pg. 13
  3. ^ "Mich.'s Largest Solar Array Plugged In Atop IKEA". Engineering News-Record. 
  4. ^ DTE plans big solar power project with Domino's Farms in Ann Arbor Township, Crain's Business Detroit, Jay, Greene, May 15, 2015
  5. ^ Ford, DTE Energy to build Michigan's largest solar array, DTE, Aug 14, 2014
  6. ^ Michigan's largest solar panel installation taking shape outside Ann Arbor,, Ryan Stanton, May 14, 2015
  7. ^ IKEA to Increase Size of Michigan's Largest Rooftop Solar Array by Approximately 25% Atop Detroit-Area Store in Canton, MI, Business Wire, December 03, 2014
  8. ^ Solar power projects heat up across Michigan, Capital News Service, Colleen Otte, December 4, 2015
  9. ^ Indiana Michigan Power Planning Solar Power Facility Near Watervliet, WSJM, January 5, 2016
  10. ^ Indiana Michigan Power Watervliet solar plant goes online, pvtech, Danielle Ola, November 14, 2016
  11. ^ Solar farm could begin construction in August, The Daily Reporter, July 17, 2015
  12. ^ DTE Energy announces biggest solar project yet, Michigan Radio, Sarah Cwiek, December 21, 2015
  13. ^ DTE Energy building two solar sites planned to be largest in Michigan,, Dominic Adams, December 21, 2015
  14. ^ DTE Building 2 MW Solar Project On Blighted Land In Detroit, Solar Industry, March 30, 2016
  15. ^ More than 700 solar panels installed at Fort Custer Training Center, mlive, May 15, 2015
  16. ^ Eaton To Assist U.S. Department Of Defense Microgrid Demo Project, Solar Industry, Joseph Bebon, April 5, 2017
  17. ^ Planned project would nearly double Michigan's solar capacity, Midwest Energy News, Andy Balaskovitz, March 11, 2015
  18. ^ MSU trustees approve largest solar array in Michigan, Detroit Free Press, from Lansing State Journal, RJ Wolcott, September 11, 2015
  19. ^ Alterra Power Announces Amendment of Power Purchase Agreement for Michigan Solar Project, CNW Group, Dec 22, 2016
  20. ^ Ground broken for solar farm near GVSU campus, WZZM, October 2, 2015
  21. ^ Consumers Energy builds solar power plant in WMU business park, mlive, August 15, 2016
  22. ^ Solar Gardens, Consumers Energy, accessed April 29, 2016
  23. ^ Wolverine to Add Largest Solar Array in Northern Michigan, PRNewswire, September 27, 2016
  24. ^ Community Solar Parks to be Developed in Cities of East Lansing and Lansing, FOX 47 News, November 3, 2015
  25. ^ DTE Energy issues RFP for voluntary solar program, Crain's Business Detroit, June 25, 2015
  26. ^ Net Metering & Solar Program Report For Calendar Year 2015, Michigan Public Service Commission, September 2016
  27. ^ State Solar Jobs, the Solar Foundation
  28. ^ "Functionality of the UNI-SOLAR® PV Cells". 
  29. ^ "Solar Ideas & Information for Homeowners - Modernize". Modernize. 
  30. ^ UNI-SOLAR Brand Debuts First Ever, UL-Approved, Standard-Production Residential Solar Module Roof Shingle
  31. ^ Suniva Starts Construction on 200 MW Solar Factory in Michigan, CleanTechnica, Zachary Shahan, August 15, 2014
  32. ^ "Michigan - Net Metering". Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  33. ^ Semiannual Projections of Energy Supply and Demand Winter Outlook 2011- 2012
  34. ^ "Renewable Energy Standard". 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  35. ^ "Michigan PSC Directs Consumers Energy to Expand Solar Program". 
  36. ^ Michigan Calls For 15% Renewable Electricity By 2021, CleanTechnica, Roy L Hales, December 19, 2016
  37. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  38. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 20. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  39. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 23. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  40. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  41. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2012" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  42. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  43. ^ 2013 Michigan Installed Solar PV pg. 15
  44. ^ Consumers Energy Starts Operating First Community Solar Power Plant at Grand Valley State University, Consumers Energy, April 18, 2016
  45. ^ DTE Energy opens solar energy facilities in three Michigan communities, PRNewswire, Feb. 4, 2016
  46. ^ IKEA to increase size of Michigan's largest rooftop solar array by approximately 25% atop Detroit-area store in Canton, MI, IKEA Corporate News, December 3, 2014
  47. ^ Michigan's Largest Solar Array Now Plugged In Atop IKEA Canton, CBS Detroit, July 10, 2012
  48. ^ News, Spartan Solar, January 19, 2017
  49. ^ DTE opens solar array at GM facility in Warren, Crain's Business Detroit, October 28, 2016
  50. ^ Highland Cemetery, SolarYpsi
  51. ^ DTE is busy growing solar panel field beside I-96, DetroitFree Press, March 10, 2014
  52. ^ "DTE Energy - Project Map". DTE Energy. 
  53. ^ Peter Venlet. "HelioTek, LLC - Holland, MI - Home". 
  54. ^ DTE Energy SolarCurrents Utility-Owned Program Aggregate Output, accessed July 11, 2012
  55. ^ "DTE Energy - Project Map". DTE Energy. 

External links[edit]