I can't help thinking with sadness about the West Virginia coal mine tragedy as I write this post about new solar power projects in two very far-flung locations: one in a place you would expect, the other, not so much.
The bigger project first: Recurrent Energy (which I just wrote about because of its work with Kaiser Permanente) has been tapped by the Ontario Power Authority to work on distributed solar power projects that are being motivated by a new Feed-in Tariff program in the province.
The work will establish the company as the biggest distributed solar provider in Ontario, with more than 154.4 MWac (177 MWstc) under management by the end of the construction. Part of the motivation for Ontario's solar work is to try to get the province to move off coal-powered plants by 2014. The projects are anticipated to create more than 2,500 jobs locally, in manufacturing, construction, engineering, project development and other related services. The solar installations are scheduled for completion in 2011 and 2012.
The other project that came to my attention is much smaller in scale, just 10 megawatts that is being built by Pacific Light and Power for an advanced solar installation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (where I happen to know that it is raining today).
There are two reasons this project, situated on 100 acres of dormant farm land, is interesting. First, it's a hybrid sort of a project, combining solar thermal parabolic trough technology not only with renewable energy storage technology being provided by Albiasa but also because it will be paired with other generation technologies that can kick in as needed to back up the solar. Second, believe it or not, this will be the first utility-scale renewable power generation facility in Kauai and the largest solar project on the Hawaiian island chain. I was surprised by this, given the incredible price of electricity here (highest in nation) and the high price of gas, which has to be barged over. This is one of the places where environment and economics both favor renewable energy. Many people have personal panels (my mother has two that heat her water) but commercial projects have been slow to develop.
The Kauai project is scheduled to begin in 2010 and could be completed within one year.