Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sempra: 500 MW or Bust!

The Union Trib quotes Michael Allman, the CEO of Sempra Generation, saying that Sempra wants to be the first company to own and operate 500 MW of solar energy capacity. They took a small step forward yesterday when a new 10 MW solar plant in Boulder City, NV came on line.

The plant, which sits adjacent to a gas-fired Sempra plant, consists of 167,000 solar modules and is expected to generated 23.2 gigawatts per year. Power output has already been sold to PG&E through 2029 for its Northern California customers.

The write-up in the U-T makes a case for big solar plants like this one, but is silent on the need to build transmission capacity from remote locations where they are sited: "Big plants are more economical than rooftop installations, Allman said. They can be put in places like the desert, where the sun is bright and land is cheap. And installers work assembly-line style, so they are more efficient. "

To wit, the article ends with this nugget:

"None of the companies involved would discuss how much the plant costs or the price Northern California customers will pay for its electricity.

But Allman said it is more expensive than the power produced next door by burning natural gas."