Utility Companies Go for Solar Power

Utilities in several states have announced plans for solar power projects, with the world’s largest solar power deal to date recently taking place in California.
From EERE Network News
March 9, 2009
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

The Gift of Solar Energy

Here are three of the season’s brightest and cleanest gifts for a greener holiday celebration.

Environmental Problems Are No Match for Human Ingenuity, Part 2

With the inventiveness of visionaries like Elon Musk, technological advances can help create a bette...

Solar Energy Outlook: Extremely Sunny

Solar industry analysts and executives say PV installations will surge in the next two years as pric...

970 Trillion kWh of Energy Every Day

Check out this dramatic short movie.

Utilities in or near the southwestern United States are planning to build or buy power from massive concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, while utilities throughout the nation are investing in solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants. Both initiatives are creating growing momentum for the utility deployment of solar power throughout the country.

In terms of CSP plants, Southern California Edison recently reached an agreement with BrightSource Energy for 1,300 megawatts (MW) of solar power, which qualifies as the world's largest solar power deal to date. The agreement calls for a series of seven projects, starting with a 100-MW CSP plant that could start operating near Ivanpah, Calif., in early 2013.

BrightSource Energy employs “power tower” technology, in which a field of thousands of flat mirrors, called heliostats, focuses sunlight onto a boiler mounted at the top of a tower. Steam produced in the boiler is piped to a turbine, which drives a generator to produce electricity. A commercial power tower was recently built in Spain, but only demonstration plants have been built in the United States. In addition, NRG Energy Inc. signed an agreement with eSolar last week to develop three solar projects totaling as much as 500 MW, also using solar power towers.

For PV power plants, California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) appears to be taking a leadership position, as the utility announced in late February that it plans to develop and own up to 250 MW of solar power facilities, while buying power from another 250 MW of solar power owned by independent developers. The California Public Utilities Commission has also approved two previous large contracts PG&E has signed with solar power developers, including a contract for 550 MW of thin-film solar PV from Topaz Solar Farms on the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County, as well as another contract with High Plains Solar Farms for 210 MW of silicon solar panels.

SunPower Inc. owns the latter project, and the former project was owned by OptiSolar Inc., but First Solar Inc. just bought out all of OptiSolar's projects, including the PG&E project. In the fourth quarter of 2008, First Solar managed to cut the manufacturing cost for its thin-film solar modules to 98 cents per watt, breaking the $1-per-watt cost barrier. The company's annual production capacity is expected to exceed 1,000 megawatts per year by the end of this year.

While California has a definite lead in solar power development, utilities in other states are now pursuing megawatt-scale solar PV projects. In New Jersey, the Public Service Electric and Gas Company has proposed to spend $773 million to support the development of 120 MW of solar PV power through many projects located throughout its service territory.

In New York, Governor David Paterson announced that the Long Island Power Authority is planning to support 50 MW of new solar power, including 13.1 MW of smaller projects developed by enXco and 36.9 MW to be installed by BP Solar in two large projects at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Down in the Sunshine State, Florida Power & Light has just broken ground on the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, a 25-MW solar PV facility that should be completed by the end of the year.


Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 

Mark James_2
4/12/2009 11:21:05 AM
I think solar power by electric companies is a good idea but, what I object to the example our provider is trying to do here in Florida. Florida Power and Light (FPL) wants the State government to give them around $9 Billion dollars from taxes to develope their system. The rub with this for me comes from believing that a company should use their capital to build their business and make their profits from selling their products. Why should the people be expected to build the business for them and then not share in the profits? Somewhere along the way big business found a way to get a free ride on the taxpayers dime and then charge them a fortune for the opportunity.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.