Arizona to become ‘Persian Gulf’ of solar energy

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From CNN online.

Arizona regulators are requiring utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, with annual increases of roughly 1 percent.

The Solana plant will bring APS to around 5 percent in 2011, said Don Robinson, the utility’s senior vice president of planning and administration.

Unlike most solar energy, Solana will use the sun’s heat, not its light, to produce power. Gila Bend can get as hot as 120 degrees in the summer.

Abengoa CEO Santiago Seage said the plant will use thousands of giant mirrors to harness the sun’s heat. That will heat up liquids, which will spin turbines — just like coal or other power plants but without the pollution.

Ain’t science grand?


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About bikepunk

“Cuts, scrapes, bruises… all in a day’s riding. Then it’s off for some good german beer in a local biergarten.” Munich, Germany

11 thoughts on “Arizona to become ‘Persian Gulf’ of solar energy

  1. Call me a radical but…
    Here in beautiful Arizona, we average over 300 days of sunshine a year. If the money was put in the right places (that’s always the sticking point, isn’t it?) we could be getting over 90% of our electricity from solar energy within a few years.
    We might even be willing to share a little with the rest of you bozo’s (evil laugh).

  2. I wish we all could focus on using less, instead of producing more (even if it is “clean”). Even if we we work our way up to 15% by 2025, it won’t really reduce carbon emissions, as our demand will undoubtedly increase by 15% (or more) in the next 15 years, and it’s not like SRP and TEP aren’t continuing to expand their coal-fired generating stations.

    Don’t forget to turn the lights off…

  3. We could run the world on solar if we could get a decent conversion efficiency, even figuring in transmission losses. Right now PV is running about 10%, experimental PV cells are running at 15%, theory says about 50% is the best you can get from PV. Now add PV to some other conversion method to get the other portion of the spectrum that PV can’t touch, and you get a winner…

  4. I once heard a riddle about conservation. If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down.

  5. Rusty,

    Agreed but we have to start somewhere. Like the mouse said when he pissed in the ocean. Every little bit helps.

  6. Pegleg,
    You’re right, we do have to start somewhere. I’m just worried about more open spaces being sacrificed. I have no idea how much land it will take to accomodate the “thousands of giant mirrors”, but I sure hope Solana, or Abengoa, or whoever, can figure out a way to keep the bulldozing to a minimum. The environmental impact from a coal fired power plant is obviously quite different from the habitat destruction that may be a result of this new Solana power plant; to me, they’re both just two different kinds of bad (the former being more harmful than the latter). Please forgive the pessimism. I really don’t know how the hell to think about this.

  7. As for Opus, I agree. My retort would be if we had followed thru in the 80’s with what Carter started, we would be in a better place, and might have a better return on this tech by now.

    But instead we went on with smaller cell phones, Xboxes, plasma TV’s Pimp My Ride and other nonsense, thinking ‘We don’t need to conserve.’

    With every iPhone toting idiot I see, i think to myself “What if Jobs and co had turned their interest and experience towards other tech instead of that crap?” (Cool as it might be…)

    >truly heavy sigh.

  8. We don’t need to give up open space. We don’t need mirror farms. There are some new technologies coming online now and it the next few years which will bring the cost of solar down to the same as the true costs of coal, and can be applied to metal roofing material. All new developments should have solar power, especially in the sunbelt of the West and Southwest. We can cover parking lots, shade cars and turn every lot into a power generation plant. Look up Nanosolar and other similar companies, which do “thin-film” PV. It’s not perfect yet, but Nanosolar got contracted to install their technology on at least one of the FedEx shipping center warehouses. They are sold out for two years doing industrial installations. Even companies like Wal-Mart are considering it on their warehouses. I forget where I saw the numbers, but the sunbelt could supply a majority of the country’s electricity, and it could all be done with efficient (re)use of space. No more coal or nuclear power plants needed. If the government put the subsidies they are going to put into coal and nuclear, into funding retrofits of the new solar technologies, we’d come out ahead. We’d already be there if it weren’t for Reagan and the Republicans from gutting Carter’s energy plan in the 80s…

  9. …no matter how it all plays out & it sure seems the technology could be improved & utilized, it must be very reassuring for jonny & his cronies to hear arizona referred to as the “persian gulf” of the solar energy trade…

    …such a pleasant reference…