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California Dreamin' revisited

Solar future may change the roof line of California and de-centralize power production.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

I recently blogged about the future of greentech in the State of California in the current state that state is in. Can greentech enable California to get its mojo back?

Well, here comes a blog report on how the state's goal for alternative energy use could invigorate the statewide economy. One thing California has is plenty of sunshine, especially in those parts of the state with the least amount of water from Palm Springs to San Diego and northward toward Santa Barbara.

Can California get one-third of its electricity from renewable by the 2020 target? That's the official state target. Sure, the state government's in deep money trouble. Furloughs of workers, cutbacks in services--standard across the state agencies and universities. But much of California has cash, especially some of the little tech companies most of us have heard of: Intel, Google, Cicsco, Oracle, Apple to name a few landowners in Silicon Valley. And the state has hugely productive agribusiness. Then there are all those parking lots in the San Diego and Los Angeles sprawl. Think this conjures up dreams of a solar powered future?

Some think it may lead to high value for roof space that faces south, or value in covering parking lots with solar collectors. And it would mean re-thinking and re-engineering the electric grid.

Earlier this year the state's Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) issued a report on what's needed to bring desert solar-generated electricity to the California urban areas which are mostly along the coast. RETI projected billions and billions in cost. But now one of their consultants, Black and Veatch, says smaller rooftop and subrurban solar farms could decentralize power production. BV says the cost of solar panels is decreasing, as an unwritten corollary to Moore's Law would suggest. Even in crowded Silicon Valley there are hundreds of days of sunshine yearly plus hundreds of square miles of roofs and parking lots, so, what are we waiting for?

Black and Veatch also see much more harvesting of wind energy, another plentiful California resource. [poll id="196"]

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