Monday, March 31, 2008

2 Major Solar Projects Announced

Southern California Edison has announced that it will spend $875 million to erect solar panels on 65 million square feet of commercial rooftops throughout Southern California. The project will generate 250 MW.

Beacon Energy also announced a 250MW project in Kern County. The project will be built by FPL Energy, which has a similar project in the Mojave Desert. It will not rely on traditional photovoltaic panels, but will use thermal solar energy in which 500,000 curved mirrors will intensify the sun’s rays, heating water to steam, which will power turbines and generate electricity. In the past, FPL has condensed and recycled the steam to save water.

Thermal solar energy is geographically limited—it cannot be practically used in high density urban areas because of the space required. Proximity continues to be a big hurdle to widespread solar use, requiring new transmission lines to get the power from its generation point to end users.

Putting rooftops to work [Long Beach Press Telegram]