Submitted by amyguinan on December 21, 2010 – 10:30am
The 370-megawatt solar-thermal Ivanpah project, located just over the California border, 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas, is the world’s largest power plant project currently under construction. By year’s end, California and federal regulators expect to approve additional projects that will produce a total of 4,143 megawatts. At peak output, that’s the equivalent of several nuclear power plants and more than seven times the solar capacity installed in the United States last year.
The power plants licensed so far will cover some 39 square miles of desert land with a variety of new and old solar thermal technologies. Unlike rooftop photovoltaic panels that directly convert sunlight into electricity, solar thermal uses the sun to heat liquids to create steam that drives electricity-generating industrial turbines.
BrightSource, the company behind the construction of Ivanpah, received a $1.37 billion loan guarantee from the United States Department of Energy to build the project, which will deploy 347,000 large mirrors that will surround three towers on 3,500 acres of federal land. The mirrors will focus the sun on a water-filled boiler that sits atop the tower to create high-temperature, high-pressure steam.
According to BrightSource CEO, John Woolard, “In the U.S. we’re lucky. The southwestern U.S. has high desert, which means it’s closer to the sun, less atmosphere to go through. It’s the best solar resource anywhere, outside the Atacama Desert in Chile or a few places. Harnessing that resource effectively is the most important thing. So we don’t have a quantity and energy problem; it’s a collection and distribution problem.”
Submitted by amyguinan on December 16, 2010 – 4:47pm
Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, has been named America’s greenest Governor for his leadership efforts in transitioning Colorado to a “new energy economy” and Colorado citizens can take pride in knowing their bottom up activism related to clean energy and job creation was heard at the state level and helped to drive policy.
In a recent interview, Governor Ritter stated that “cultivating a competitive edge in energy and sustainable development is what we should be doing” and that these goals meet job creation and environmental concerns – both of which Colorado citizens has expressed concerns about.
Amendment 37, approved by Governor Ritter, sets Colorado’s renewable energy standard at 30% by 2020 – one of the highest standards in the country. Furthermore, Ritter supports HB-1365 and belives that a transition off of coal and onto renewables or natural gas helps to address human-caused climate change and improves energy security.
In addressing citizen concerns about the stalemate in a national clean energy policy, Ritter said, “This isn’t Democrats versus Republicans so much as lobbyists and special interests standing in the way. If you see someone opposed to something like energy efficiency, they are probably hanging onto an industry that has seen its day.”
For more information on Governor Ritter’s new energy economy plans, click here: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/12/06/americas-greenest-governor-discusses-smart-growth-clean-energy
Submitted by amyguinan on November 5, 2010 – 9:17am
The Colorado Renewable Energy Society and the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association are leading the formation of a Solar Thermal Alliance for Colorado. According to National Renewable Energy Lab researchers, “Colorado’s sunshine, climate, and heating requirements make solar thermal technologies perform better in Colorado than in any other state in the U.S. Colorado’s solar thermal expertise is among the best in the world.”
Their vision is to make Colorado a global leader in solar thermal adoption, installation, manufacturing, and R&D to boost Colorado’s economy, generate jobs, and help build a sustainable energy future.
If you are interested in lending your support to the Solar Thermal Alliance of Colorado, please send a quick e-mail to STAC@cres-energy.org
Submitted by amyguinan on November 4, 2010 – 2:05pm
Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors to focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is directed onto photovoltaic surfaces or used to heat a transfer fluid for a conventional power plant. Recent research and developments in CSP systems are yielding impressive results – and beyond the R&D phase, real CSP projects are moving forward and being implemented creating renewable energy and new jobs.
In our home state of Colorado, tests conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden confirm that SkyFuel’s parabolic trough solar concentrator, the SkyTrough, has the highest standard for efficiency in its class. NREL tests show the SkyTrough’s thermal efficiency at 350 degrees C (662 degrees F) to be over 73% efficient, meaning that nearly three quarters of the solar radiation striking the trough surface is converted into thermal energy.
In California six utility-scale solar power plants have been approved in California. When completed, the combined power generation will be 2.8 GW, powering up to 2 million homes. The largest of these 6 projects is the Blythe Solar Power Project, it will be the largest solar project ever on public land and will use parabolic trough similar to that used by SkyFuel in Golden. Beyond the efficiency of this CSP systems, another advantage of this technology is that the heat can be stored in molten salt and used to create power when the sun isn’t shining.
For more information, visit
Conventional wisdom sometimes suggest that as more renewables are added to a utility’s generating mix, the average cost of electricity increases, but French feed-in tariffs for wind, hydro, biogas and other technologies not only did not cost money in 2008, they also saved French ratepayers five million Euros through the year.
Furthermore, generation from renewables in France increased nearly three fold from 2003 through 2009.
Previous studies in Germany, Denmark, and Spain illustrated the significant monetary benefit when renewables offset conventional generation.