Friday, February 13, 2009

California Solar Projects

Another solar power project was announced recently, this one to eventually produce up to 1300 MW of power for Southern California, in seven separate plants.  This will help toward the 33 percent renewables required for California under AB 32.   The technology for this one is a power tower, with mirrors that track the sun focusing the sun's rays on an elevated receiver where water is converted to steam.  The steam spins a turbine, turbine turns a generator, then exhaust steam is condensed against the desert air.  

And Sempra Generation is in the thin-film solar game, with a Nevada-based system and more planned for the desert southwest.  The plant in Nevada is rated at 10 MW, small but apparently a proof-of-concept system.   The solar modules are manufactured by First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Arizona. 

It appears that the 33 percent requirement should mean California must have approximately 16 to 20,000 MW of renewable power by 2020.  We have a long way to go. 


I did some checking on the 33 percent RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard), and the AB 32 Scoping Plan shows that this is to remove 21.3 million Tonnes CO2 per year from the skies over California.  Presumably, these renewable energy power plants alleviate the need to build and run natural gas-fired combined cycle cogeneration plants.  On that basis, the quantity of renewable energy produced must be on the order of 40,000 MW, operating at roughly 6 hours each and every day at the rated capacity.  This is the same as a 24 percent capacity factor.   We have a REALLY long way to go.   

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.  aka energyguy on

Roger Sowell's website may be found here.  

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