Will 2009 be a solar year?

There are strong indications that eleven months from now, there'll more solar energy use around the globe than there is today. Just two months ago work was completed on Europe's first concentrated solar power plant (CSP).

There are strong indications that eleven months from now, there'll more solar energy use around the globe than there is today. Just two months ago work was completed on Europe's first concentrated solar power plant (CSP). These CS plants use mirrors to focus the sun's heat and don't depend on traditional solar panels. The CSP is called Solar Millennium’s Andasol 1. The plant's located in Spain. Solar Millennium is a German-based firm. They're also constructing a CSP in Egypt. Solar Millennium uses heat storage tanks to maintain more continuous electric production.

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Big mirrors at Andasol 1. Courtesy Solar Millennium.

France is a European laggard in developing solar energy but a new government push for roof-top solar panels and interest from the national utility, EDF, indicatres there'll be solar installations in France.

In Bengladesh they have lots of sun, lots of people, not much money and produce less than one-tenth of the petroleum consumed there. Bengladesh has no coal production and natural gas is the only fossil fuel produced in sufficient quantity to meet the naton's current level of use. They just lifted all duties on the importation of solar components, hoping to further solar power production there.

Here in the U.S. the largest solar plans are backed by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP). They plan to eventually develop over 1.2 gigawatts of generating capacity, using both solar panels and CSP. I blogged about the LADWP plans and other measures in California where solar installations are being supported by state policies.

Colorado continues to feature public sector moves to increase its use of solar power. That's in keeping with the governor's call there for a "New Energy Economy." The latest solar installation is now operating on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo. It should supply about 10% of the campus's energy needs.

Solar will continue to be a political hot potato in the U.S. The out-going Republican Energy Secretary says the country won't reach the Obama goal of doubling alternative energy production in three years. Besides, he says, that means more government spending which he doesn't approve of. It is apparently politics that have kept Arizona so backward in developing its abundant solar resource. One city official there is pushing his town to become solarized and says public policy is critical in getting more solar developed. The town of Surprise, Arizona, is now waiving most fees for solar installations there.

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