A new report shows North Carolina becoming a bigger player in the solar energy market. The firm NPD Solarbuzz says North Carolina created 400MW (megawatts) of new solar capacity. That’s enough to account for 10 percent of all new solar in the U.S. and Canada. Analyst Michael Barker says it’s a ramp up from previous years.

"One of the big findings was just how quickly the North Carolina market has grown in 2013," Barker says. "Climbing from the 5th largest U.S. market to the 2nd largest U.S. market."

Duke Energy Renewables

Duke Energy is not known for embracing renewable energy in North Carolina. About one percent of the Duke Energy Progress’ and Duke Energy Carolinas’ electric capacities in the state come from renewables—mostly solar, as well as a small amount of wind and biomass. Duke’s favored plan projects that number to rise to just 3 percent, 15 years from now. At the same time, Duke has a subsidiary business solely focused on developing and selling renewable energy across the country. WFAE’s Ben Bradford spoke to the president of Duke Energy Renewables for a businessman’s perspective on the green revolution.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

When you look out the airplane window as you fly into Charlotte, the trees thin, the Uptown skyline rises into view, and the buildings of West Charlotte grow larger, as your plane drops altitude. The City of Charlotte hopes to add solar panels glinting across the airport’s parking lots and in-between the runways to that view. The city is soliciting bids for an ambitious solar project at the airport.

North Carolina Utilities Commission

Over the next 15 years, Duke Energy plans to increase how much it relies on renewable energy only modestly—from 1 percent next year to just 2 percent in 2028. The utility is concentrating on natural gas.

This is part of Duke’s annual filing with state regulators, where the utility maps out how it plans to provide energy to North Carolina customers.

UNC Charlotte Places 13th At Solar Decathlon

Oct 14, 2013
Carol Anna/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

UNC Charlotte's solar house, UrbanEden, placed 13 out of 19th in the 2013 Solar Decathlon in Irvine, Calif., that ended this past weekend, but the team went home with the People's Choice Award.

Team Austria won first place in the competition, the University of Nevada Las Vegas won second and the Czech Republic won third. 

UNC Charlotte Team Ready For Solar Decathlon Judging

Oct 3, 2013
Meg Whalen/UNC Charlotte

The UNC Charlotte Solar Decathlon Team is one of 19 teams chosen from all over the world to compete in a U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition.  

For the last two weeks, the team has been putting its house back together after it was taken apart to be shipped from Charlotte to Irvine, California. Michelle Todd is one of two dozen UNC Charlotte students and faculty members at the competition.

Lake Norman Solar Farm Faces Opposition At Hearing

Sep 9, 2013
Strata Solar

DENVER – A Chapel Hill company’s plan to build a 36-acre “solar farm” in eastern Lincoln County will be up for a public hearing Monday night at the Lincoln County Commission. Some neighbors of a nearby waterfront neighborhood don’t like the idea, and say they’ll be there to speak out against the plan.

Strata Solar LLC has applied for a conditional-use permit to build an array of 26,000 eight-foot tall solar panels on either side of Webbs Road, near Burton Lane in Denver.

UNC Charlotte Students Make Progress On Solar House

Jun 27, 2013
Tasnim Shamma

UNC Charlotte's Solar Decathlon Team says it's about half-way through completing the construction of its solar house. They were recently nominated from teams all over the world to compete in a U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition.  

The UNC Charlotte team is calling their $300,000 solar house, UrbanEden. It's been four months in the making and you can see the walls now and imagine what it will look like when it's finished.   

Duke Energy Ranks Eighth In Solar Rankings

Jun 17, 2013
Tasnim Shamma

Since its merger with Progress last summer, Duke Energy has become the country's largest regulated utility company. But a report from the Solar Electric Power Association shows it ranks eighth in 2012 for the amount of solar power it can use at any one time.  

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Duke Energy hosted its annual shareholder meeting in Uptown Thursday, one day before the company releases its first quarter earnings report. CEO Jim Rogers pronounced the company healthy and profitable, but the meeting was also a rare opportunity to berate the CEO.