Dams along the Snake River were a natural way to access the Magic Valley's resources. But in the early 2000s and 2010s, Idaho Power started seeing more wind and solar contracts come in under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978. Because of the looming energy crisis, the act required utility companies to buy electricity from qualifying projects, such as solar farms.
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If solar forecasting has improved significantly, it remains in an early stage, Kosovic said. Research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy has focused first on production from utility-scale solar projects such as the Greater Sandhill Solar Farm in Colorado's San Luis Valley. Comparing the production of electricity with what had been predicted allows forecasters to better calibrate their models. Distributed solar generation, such as on rooftops, poses a greater challenge, because performance data cannot be paired with predictions. They also cover a much larger area.
The United Kingdom has ample resources for ocean energy and has long been a leader in wave energy research. After the bankruptcies of two pioneering wave energy companies, the Scottish government has gone back to the drawing board. A new agency is funding crosscutting research, for example in materials and control systems, that could help a range of wave energy devices. The government program is also trying to improve technology transfer and build investor confidence by benchmarking progress. Companies are trying out novel designs, such as a giant rubber tube and polymers that generate electricity when flexed.