Five solar plants scheduled to come
Aug 3, 2007 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
- Tatiana Prophet Daily Press
Victorville, Calif. Every couple years or so, someone
announces the "world's largest solar plant" for the
Mojave Desert, where clouds rarely block the sun.
Right now, five of them are scheduled to come on line
in the next couple years.
Why, then, is Victorville
moving forward with a large natural gas-fired plant
that has a small solar component?
The main reason
is efficiency, said Tom Barnett, executive vice president
of Newport Beachbased Inland Energy Inc., the city's
private development partner.
"It will make the overall
economics much better and helps the efficiency of
the gas plant to do it that way," he said.
the sun's energy can be used only when the sun is
shining, so having a natural gas plant gives the entire
project consistency and reliability.
To keep the plant
efficient, the solar-thermal technology will be using
the same steam turbine as the natural gasfueled generator,
cutting down the need for two steam turbines.
563-megawatt plant will supply enough power to several
hundred thousand homes, most likely in Southern California.
Up until now, large-scale solar power projects have
mostly remained ideas on a drawing board -- so anything
greater than 310 megawatts is the world's largest.
The maximum amount currently operating is 310 megawatts,
held by titleholder Florida Power and Light, which
owns a pair of power plants built in the 1970s at
Kramer Junction and Harper Dry Lake.
to be announced, as evidenced by an Israeli company's
announcement late last month, that they would be building
the "largest solar plant in the world" at 533 megawatts.
Judging from a list of plants announced to the California
Energy Commission, many of them are still moving forward,
if a little bit behind schedule.
Victorville 2 is
ahead of all of them, but still has some hurdles to
leap involving the transfer of emissions credits from
the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
projects include Stirling Solar Thermal One and Two,
planned by Stirling Energy Systems, an Arizona-based
company that announced an agreement in 2005 with Southern
California Edison, originally indicated it would break
ground in late 2007.
Attempts to reach Stirling were
unsuccessful, but according to Edison spokesman Paul
Klein, the agreement is still in effect.
to building large-scale solar plants are the need
for massive amounts of land and the fact that energy
cannot be stored for very long.
Barnett said he welcomed
the large-scale solar projects, adding that the Victorville
2 project is only the beginning in renewable technology.
"We didn't feel like we wanted to push the edge of
the envelope on the plant's performance parameters,"
he said. "If it works well, then the next system can
be designed to take a little bit more."
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