Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Seeing the Forest

In the last few weeks, there have been two more big announcements on solar energy. Last month, there was the big announcement that Southern California Edison was going to buy energy from a giant power plant composed of the technology from Stirling Energy Systems. That facility could possibly grow to 850 MWs.

Now, there is a second announcement,

Solar Installation To Produce 300-900 Megawatts

PHOENIX, Sept. 7, 2005 – Stirling Energy Systems ( SES ) announced today a contract with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to provide between 300 and 900 megawatts (MW) of solar power, approximately 30 times more solar power than is now being generated in the San Diego region. This contract represents the second record-breaking solar project signed by the company in the past month, which may surpass the earlier contract to become the world's largest solar installation.

This large-scale application of SES technology will provide clean, renewable solar energy to SDG&E customers,” said Bruce Osborn, CEO of SES . “ We believe this is a truly historic moment for the solar energy industry, and we are pleased to be teaming with a progressive and innovative company like SDG&E.”

According to the company, "The SES Stirling solar dish technology is the world's most efficient device for the conversion of solar energy to grid-delivered electricity, nearly twice as efficient as any alternative solar technology."

And then late last week, this story appeared in the Guardian:

Portugal plans biggest solar station
Giles Tremlett
Thursday September 15, 2005

Work on the world's largest solar energy station, which will produce enough electricity to power 21,000 homes, is to start near the southern Portuguese town of Moura next year.

The 62-megawatt plant, which will use 350,000 solar panels spread over an area the size of 150 football pitches, represents a leap forward for solar energy as it moves out of small-scale use into producing electricity in large quantities.

The €250m (£168m) Girassol plant will be 12 times the size of the biggest solar power plant currently in operation near Leipzig in Germany.

Those involved in the project say it will allow solar power to start competing with wind power as a large-scale generator of renewable energy.

"Photo-voltaic power is anecdotal at the moment compared to other power station sources. With this, it can start to become a player," Francisco Conesa, commercial director for BP Solar in southern Europe, said yesterday."

If you add the two California plants and the Portugal plant, and then add the total number of all other photovoltaic installations in the world, you get something close to 2 Gigawatts. That is about how much wind energy will be added in the US this year. Total wind additions for the world will be more than 6 GWs.

Now for those of you who have no idea what a Gigawatt of electrical capacity means, it's a whole f#$king lot. You need 2 or 3 GWs for a million american type users. There is over 600 Gigawatts of electrical generating capacity in the US.

So solar, like the above story says, is begining to compete with wind as a large scale generator of renewable energy.

There are some writers out there who glibly say that wind and solar

cannot possibly match the coming shortfall of energy we face

due to the coming decline of world oil production.

There are some who would have you believe that we can't have

a dynamic bustling economy without pollution and greenhouse gases.

In many ways,

They remind me of the Nascar crowd.

They aren't here to see the race and watch the best guy win.

They are here to see the big crash.

They sell their ideas with a Kookie kind of charm.

They make sentences that are just plain fun to read.

They believe their homeowner flirtations with wind energy or solar energy

and their research qualify them as experts in finding the truth

of the issue.

Like Tammy Wynette,

they feel like shit, and they just want to share that with you.

In truth, their scenarios of poverty, decay, and loss of the middle class,

are important pieces of story telling that should get any thinking,

breathing, caring, lover of life, nature, and the gifts we have been given,

off their butuskis and into the growing groove of green.

But their story is just a story.

If you see the forest.

Then, you can see the light in between those trees.


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Blogger Step Back said...

There is no shortage of "energy".

We live in a society that suffers from delusional worship of oil and of the "wisdom" of Adam Smith's invisible hand, namely, the make believe hand that is gloved in silks so fine that only the truly wise and loyal subjects of the Empire can see them.

Can't you see them? If you cannot, then perhaps you are neither wise nor loyal.

God please save us from our Emperor and from the gullible fools who voted him in and from the sycophantic mind twisters who walk one pace behind the Emperor and constantly cleanse his royal rear with their tongues.

P.S. Solar Stirling is not the same as Photovoltaic. In Solar Stirling, radiation concentraters focus solar energy on closed-fluid heat engines mounted near the focal point of the parabolic mirrors. These are really neat machines. Huh?

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Optimism sells. CHF

5:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post and nice use of an old metaphor. MS.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a nice contrast to the doomsters. that is why I like this site, it is realist about the present and hopeful for the future.


11:09 AM  
Blogger John Hamre said...

I find your writing refreshing and it tells me we are not all going to hell in a hand basket if we just start using our brains.

2:09 PM  

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