California Rides a Wave of Solar Power…Like Sustainable
HOUSTON—September 25, 2002—Researched by Industrialinfo.com (Industrial Information Resources Incorporated, Houston, Texas). The incremental growth of electrical power generated from being marginal experiments into necessary options in the power mix. Due to sustained and informed lobbying and the practical development of ways and means, California has now enable the state and regions within the state to develop localized sources of non-carbon based generation which, when aggregated, will form significant portions of main electricity supply within targeted budgets under incentive payment schemes. Earlier this year the Californian Power Authority (CPA) put forward its energy resource investment plan ‘Clean Growth: Clean Energy for California’s Economic Future.’
The San Francisco Solar Power Plan will provide enough power to serve 60,000 homes. Photovoltaic panels placed on the roofs of city buildings and facilities, commercial buildings, and private homes will cover a total of 140 to 250 acres and will produce 50MW. A second mixed wind and solar generating scheme will generate another 42 MW of power and cost $100 million. This plant will be six times larger than the world’s current largest photovoltaic panel solar facility in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District
The San Francisco scheme will cut greenhouse emmissions from the area by about 1% and provide 10% of the city’s electricity during the day and 5% of nighttime peak load. Local Power (California) will design, build, operate, and maintain the ‘peaker’ planer and transfer the power through an agreement with the CPA. The San Francisco plan will nearly double the amount of solar power produced in the USA.
The attractions of solar and wind power to the city include the phasing out of polluting natural gas power plants and having alternative power sources available in earthquake territory. Other towns and cities such as Berkeley, Oakland, and Marin County are developing locally generated renewable energy sources.
The Board of Commissioners approved this month an increase and expansion of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Solar incentive program. Incentive payment limits will be increased and extended and the program will be expanded by allowing large customers to participate in both the LADWP incentive program and a rebate effort of another local utility. Incentive payment limits for commercial and industrial customer were doubled from $1 million to $2 million per project and increased from $50,000 to $60,000 per project for residential customers. These incentives can provide up to 75% of total system costs. The highest incentive payments of $4.50 per watt and $6.50 per watt for systems manufactured in Los Angeles were extended for an additional year until the end of 2003. The overall solar program was extended to 2010.
Major photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers Shell Solar (LSE:SHEL) (London, United Kingdom) and Powerlight Corporation (Berkeley, California) have located assembly facilities in Los Angeles as a result of the LADWP’s Solar Incentive program and over 200 contractors have participated in LADWP’s solar training program.
The increased use of PV cell technology is bringing the unit price down and the LA incentives alone reduce the costs of going solar by more than half. The program aims to add the equivalent of 100,000 residential solar rooftops by 2010 and increase the number of large commercial and institutional users.
Promotion and education are part of the program including ‘Cool School,’ which provide shade trees and instruction to students while lowering campus energy costs.
The overall CPA Energy Resource Investment Plan details a strategy to prevent future energy crises by meeting California’s energy supply shortfalls through energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable generation. In total, the CPA will generate $5 billion in revenue bond financing that will leverate over $12 billion in clean energy investment by 2007. The plan envisages generating the equivalent power that could be obtained from 5 big coal-fired plants with largely non-polluting sources. This is equivalent to taking one million cars off the road over the next twenty years.
The global market for PV technology is expected to be $1.5 billion by 2005. The U.S. Department of Energy plans to have one million homes with solar roofs by 2010. By 2020 the PV industry expects to employ over 150,000 people.
While California moves on the green energy front, neighboring Nevada could steal history’s Energy Innovator title. First the wise guys came and made the desert bloom with dollars and neon. Then the really wise guys drove a railroad into a mountain to dump inexhaustible nuclear fuel waste. Now some visionary wise guys have figured that if 9% of Nevada was covered with solar parabolic trough systems, the total electricity needs of the USA could be met. It would be good for them to check just where they build. Capiche?
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